I’ve been reading the wonderful blog, “How a Poem Happens”, (www.howapoemhappens.blogspot.com) which features poems by amazing poets around the country, followed by an interview on the poem’s process. In an interview with Rick Barot, he was asked how his poem negotiates fact and fiction, and Barot offered the best answer I’ve ever heard about writing from an experience: “A poem is a performance of the truth.”
I’ve struggled with how true to fact I should be when writing my own poems and I feel Barot’s statement hits the nail squarely on the head and allows alot of room for forgiveness when it comes to translating an event or story into a poem.
There seems to be a popular trend to shy away from personal experiences in poetry nowadays. Confessional poetry has become something of a four-letter word, and I can understand why. At best, confessional poetry reaches out from the deeply personal and speaks to the reader about larger issues. At worst, however, confessional poems read like whiny diary entries. I’ve been wrestling with confession for quite a long time, but I still feel like some personal stories need to be told, regardless of how trendy or out-of-style their system of delivery may be.