Saturday, 12 February 2011

Writing your self

That's Your Self not 'yourself', by Myra Schneider. Myra is coming to the University of Winchester to give a talk but first she is teaching my poetry group for 2 hours. She writes poetry (e.g. Circling the Core and Insisting on Yellow about her personal experiences as well as writing useful books like Writing Your Self. I'm looking for starting points for poetry and finding it tricky to come up with personal stuff. I don't like exposing myself or My Self, I tend to tell people about myself in very matter-of-fact ways, or not at all. As a therapist, of course, one of the most important boundaries is that you keep that stuff to yourself. I'm looking forward to the session in a few weeks time but nervous about it, so I'm preparing by giving some of her methods a go.

The poetry course is looking at this confessional style of poetry and I started a few of the exercises in Writing Your Self purely to get some raw material for work for the module. The first exercises are the sort I like, where you just let your mind splurge onto the page from somewhere at the back. I started with the prompt Love is ... and pasted thirty or so down a page and then just let my fingers fill them in.

I ended up with some interesting ideas which translated into a sonnet. Due to the peculiar rules of the OU on plagiarising yourself (don't ask) I can't put the poem up, but the here are some of my starting points:

Love is as disappointing as an empty sweet wrapper
Love is the reason for breathing out
Love is loneliness
Love is children reborn again each day
Love is the bright colours in a  rainbow
Love is the chocolate biscuits in the tin, the ones with the foil on
Love is hope for every morning

I do wonder if a year of therapy might be better for me than a year at university, but you get the drift. Myra's poems are sometimes painful to read, I wonder at the reason for publishing such personal poetry? And, just because the poems are in the first person, are they autobiographical (and if not, does that matter?). I find talking about loss creates such a reaction from other people I end up feeling uncomfortable, trying to make them feel better about my pain. Even if you write an imagined poem people relate it to you, in a way they don't in fiction. Although I did write a story about a serial killer and people left me alone for the summer... I'm going to throw myself at it anyway, and if it's too painful I can always run away and start again under a new name.

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