Friday, April 2, 2010

So I Said "Yes"

Yesterday I was privileged to be included in a PoetryFest on Sanibel Island.  During the reception, a woman approached me and said, "I really liked your poem. Is it true?" I hesitated, since I had read two poems, and asked her, "You mean about the geese?" She nodded. I was unsure how to answer.  So I said, "Yes."

 I've been thinking about this ever since.

For a writer, what is true? Do we say, "A poem reveals and conceals"? Do we say, "It is true metaphorically"? Do we describe the instant of the inspiration? Do we say this happened, but this was expanded and expounded upon, because it is a poem?  Do we say "What is true is what is true for you?" Do we say, "Even fiction comes from somewhere within us, so it must somehow be us?"  Do we remind the curious of the quote by Red Smith? "Writing is easy. All you have to do is sit down at the typewriter and open a vein."

So I say, "Yes!" If what we write somehow touches the writer or the reader, it is true, or truth... for at least one of us or one of them.

When I was in high school, I had one semester of Creative Writing. I only remember one thing the teacher said. "Good writing is when someone reads something and thinks, 'Yes, that's it.' "

In every man's writings, the character of the writer must lie recorded.
     Thomas Carllyle

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.
     Robert Frost

The  true writer has nothing to say. What counts is the way he says it.
     Alain Robbe-Grillet

I'm glad I just said, "Yes," to the woman. The philosophy of it all doesn't matter. If we can write, or if we can read,  or if we can feel -- this is how we connect with one another. This is how we know we are not alone.

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