NaPoWriMo 2016: day twenty-three


Day twenty-three!

One more week!!! You can do this!

Seriously, you're doing this, you got the rest of this! No matter how far "behind" you think you are. You're doing this!

(I want to hug you all.)

Today I want to talk more about a feeling than a particular poetic form. No, not quite a feeling, a state of being. A way of holding paradox:


Ambivalence gets a bad rap in Western culture. It goes against logic. (Where's the logic in a poem?) We could discuss this idea for days and days and go into all sorts of interesting side conversations about paradox. It would be just like a graduate class in Philosophy, only way more fun and with less term papers.

But since this isn't a philosophy class, let's just focus on ambivalence in poetry. Ambivalence increases the tension in a poem, making the poem more interesting to the reader. Tension in the self can be difficult to deal with (making us feel anxious or - haha - tense) but tension in any kind of writing is highly desirable. It's what compels the reader forward, keeping them reading.

And poetry (especially longer poems) can be essentially all gray area. Not black and white. Not cut and dried. Poetry holds room for many conflicting truths to be true all at the same time. This is the lure of the turn we started looking at with the sonnet last week. You start at one place and you end in a different place all together.

As Walt Whitman wrote:

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Today, no one example poem. (Although somewhat randomly, these are the poems I'm thinking about as I write this.)

Today, start with tabula rasa (a clean slate) and write what needs to be written, that which is conflicting you. Write out of your ambivalence. Write into a new way of seeing the paradoxes that you carry around.

Start one place and surprise yourself.

(This is another day of catching up, because you can combine this prompt with any of the other prompts, if you'd like. And, as usual, you can totally ignore this prompt, if you aren't feeling it.)

Happy poeming