“I believe that any good and valid poem is an experience of its own, an experience of words and sounds that shake the body and stun the senses, a real experience in the real world. I believe a poem is this first, no matter how else someone may define or interpret it intellectually. It has being, a time and a space of its own. It is not simply about a human experience, it is a human experience.” -Pattiann Rogers
What a wonderful way to think of a poem (or story, novel, essay). The quote comes from Rogers’ The Dream of the Marsh Wren: Writing as a Reciprocal Creation. This book was published as part of The Credo Series from Milkweed press. From the Series introduction: “Each volume represents an individual writer’s credo, his or her investigation of what it means to write about the human experience…” (Series editor is Scott Slovic)
Rogers intersperses meditations on her work between actual poems, creating a very open, fascinating look into her creative process. Part of my upcoming graduation lecture (at VCFA) borrows from another of Rogers’ essays. I haven’t read much of her poetry yet, (I’ve got her collected works on my desk as I type) but I find myself referencing her again and again in my critical writing. Funny how these voices speak to us from such distant places.