Katie's Voice

A Doubter in the Church of Poetry

“Honestly, I think hope is more likely to support us as we work towards change. I really do. But we also require honesty, and the confrontation and acceptance of contradiction, even paradox. So as a devout member of the Church of Poetry who frequently wrestles with doubt, I have to leave you with one amazing, hopeful story for poetry: in the wake of tragedy, a poem gone viral, a poem not written by an Old White Male, a poem published in a journal very much like Small Journal #7082. Read the poem, and reconnect with your faith.” Read the rest of this post here.

The Literary Life

Friends, I have a confession to make:

I lose faith. Often. Sometimes multiple times a day.

And I’m not talking about religious faith, though I have been known to call it the Church of Poetry.

I’m talking about my faith in the power and importance of literary writing, and poetry in particular.

I suspect some of my former students would be surprised to learn this. When I’m in the classroom or mentoring a writer, I can access my passion easily. I feel it; I know it, that this person’s writing is important, that saying our truths in the wonderfully nuanced, complex, paradox-embracing way that literary writing encourages makes a difference in the world. How can we understand the world—something I consider one of our primary purposes here—without the words, the art, that allows for glimpses beyond the surface?life-863148_1920

There I go again, getting caught up in my own rhetoric, when…

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Categories: Katie's Voice

17 replies »

  1. Everyone does, if they say otherwise they’re a liar. That’s a form of writers block and everyone gets it, everyone hates it..especially when you have a time limit, or have a goal set time limit. But just keep writing and the right words come out without thinking.

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  2. I see what you’re saying but it could be also attributed to losing your voice, and in turn that comes with the loss of faith of that voice and all that comes with it. And literature is nothing without the voice behind it

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I feel like my voice was caged. Purely by my own self. I put stuff off because I was closed to the world and to the others around me. I had a loners mentality for several years. Still kind of do. So I wrote and read many books in a bid to be more involved and understand the world around me. Still looking to break free from this.

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  4. I feel like my voice was caged. Purely by my own self. I put stuff off because I was closed to the world and to the others around me. I had a loners mentality for several years. Still kind of do. So I wrote and read many books in a bid to be more involved and understand the world around me. Still looking to break free from this.

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  5. This has happened to me many times, but writing is from the soul, not simply a choice that goes away. It will come back. I usually find reading lots of articles and books help to inspire me again. Take some time off… And enjoy it! Namaste
    -buddhaful Britt

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  6. Hi Katie.

    I also despair at the state of creative writing – particularly poetry in its contemporary forms. Among reasons for no pay, small readership is the failure of communicative intent, I suspect.

    Anyway, thanks for this. It was food to read of a little doubt in the church.

    Cheers,

    Frank

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Frank–
    Yes, I agree that sometimes literary writing is more concerned with technique than content, putting off some readers. And one could argue that a return to valuing the marketability of writing–at least to some extent–isn’t all bad. But in 20+ years of teaching, I had students who connected to poems that didn’t have enough “heart” for my own taste, as well as students who found experimental work utterly pretentious. I think we need it all, and I hesitate to place the blame for a broken system back on the writers who are so hurt by it.
    Thanks for commenting–like any expression of doubt by a true believer, it felt risky to confess to!
    –Katie

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes, fair point Katie – whatever the kids relate to is a good start, but I think it goes a little pear-shaped after that (I’m generalising of course). I feel very sour at what I read in ‘contemporary’ publications, representing the current norm, and also what I hear of creative writing courses, which seem to me by-pass the primary objective (IMO) of communication through the work.

    I’m a bit of an old crotchet on this subject, I’m afraid. I had to leave a poetry performance recently – in ‘slam’ format – because I was embarassed to associate with what I was seeing and hearing. Oh well, no one missed me, I don’t think!

    Cheers,

    Frank

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  9. Yep, every poet has been there. What’s that great line?– “words, words. as if all. worlds were there.” from Robert Creeley’s poem “A Token.” I need to step out of words to maintain poetic sanity.

    Liked by 1 person

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