Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Quote from Joseph Bathanti, poet laureate of NC, 2012 - 2014

Accessibility

When I first started writing poetry as a high schooler, I adopted what I call “The Seven Layers of Enigma” model. I wrote a verse that I did not understand, but was sure that others would marvel at simply because it was so inscrutable. 
I wrote this way because I had found few poems – dished out to me in school by well-meaning teachers – that I understood in the vein that one understands prose. Once I began reading on my own and discovered poems and poets that used clear language that told stories, I was evangelized, and my poems became more narrative, more rooted in stories, often about working-class citizens, and much more accessible to hopefully everyone, including folks who don’t typically like poetry. Robert Lowell, in his poem, “Epilogue,” writes “Yet why not say what happened?” I ascribe to that.

I’m decidedly a narrative poet, although I don’t let that get in the way if I want to step outside those lines and fool around with other kinds of deliveries, and I’m also very fond of writing sonnets, as well as writing in other traditional forms. Nevertheless, I do find my central story in narrative because, at heart, I’m a storyteller. Robert Creeley once famously said, “Form is never more than an extension of content.” I do start a poem with a notion of style and shape, but tend to allow Creeley’s dictum to guide the ultimate temperament and form the finished poem will take.

Bathanti will be one of the presenters at A Day for Writers, August 24, in Sylva, NC at the Jackson County Public Library. 

1 comment:

  1. I write narrative poems and look forward to this workshop with Joseph Bathanti. It will be a good one, I know.

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