An Ars Poetica
or something like it
I am sliding into your inbox at the very end of the month with a very rough third draft. For the past few weeks, I’ve been in a writing workshop with bridgette bianca, an incredible poet, educator, and human. One of our first assignments was to write an ars poetica, or at least, something like it.
An ars poetica is, essentially, a poem about poetry. I know, very meta. As someone who has been writing poems for several years now, I was surprised by how difficult it was to start this poem. I talk about poetry in my poems often enough, and I have a lot of ideas about what poetry in general should seek to do, but trying to come up with any kind of thesis, no matter how loose, about what my poetry is supposed to do has proven impossible, at least so far.
I am sending you this poem-in-progress because the state of being in progress feels integral to any statements I have to make about my art. I am interested in becoming, in moving forward, and, to quote R.P. Blackmur, “adding to the stock of available reality.” The more I write, the less interested I become in tidy answers. This month, we will embrace the mess.
This is technically the third version of this poem, and I doubt it will be the last. The first draft included a rough version of the first stanza. I had to find a way to get into writing about what feels like a pretty abstract topic to me, so I thought of ways I might make my poetry feel like a more concrete character. The second draft was much longer, and had some earlier stanzas that were, ultimately, in service of the reader rather than in service of the poem. I think that sometimes openings like that are fine, but in this case those lines felt more like throat clearing than anything else.
The Buzzfeed quiz section comes from two sources of inspiration. First, someone in a different writing workshop gave a prompt to write a silly internet quiz. Second, bridgette bianca encouraged us to make our poems more strange. So, here we go.
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