Monday, August 31, 2009

Wallace Stevens Revisited

“Individual poets, whatever their imperfections may be, are driven all their lives by that inner companion of the conscience which is, after all, the genius of poetry in their hearts and minds. I speak of a companion of the conscience because to every faithful poet, the faithful poem is an act of conscience.”

Many of us, myself included until recently, want to believe that our work, poetry and visual art especially, can somehow avoid the personal. Our individuality is sterilized to keep the skill and intellectualism intact; a necessary distance to us artists afraid of triteness and confessionality. But more and more I realize that this is what makes the poem my own. We must learn the discretion through skill, and then we are no longer required to censor in the way we never did in our high school journaling. We must trust ourselves.

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