Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sydney Lea On Poetry For Burlington Free Press

Sydney Lea, a Four Way Books author and the Vermont Poet Laureate wrote an article for the Burlington Free Press on poetry and writing poetry.

"Too many would-be writers have been (mis)educated into believing that literature’s aims are abstract, intellectual or philosophic; thus their greatest block is (quote) “I couldn’t come up with an idea.” But as my late friend William Matthews, a marvelously inventive poet, once remarked: “Poetry is not criticism in reverse.” The writer, that is, does not begin with a concept, then bury it under a lot of lavish language that the reader is obliged to clear away in order to get back to the originating concept. If that’s all poetry were, we could just write a prose rendition of the “idea” and go home.

I believe that many of us write to discover our own current obsessions, which may and likely should – prior to putting words on paper — remain obscure even to us. We need the thrill of discovery, and if we don’t have it, it’s a sure bet the reader won’t either. My response to students’ complaints about their lack of ideas, then, was – Well, good! Notions formed in advance will rob writing of its potential vigor."

Finish the article here. To learn more about Lea and his writing, visit us at Four Way Books.