Wednesday, 1 May 2013


an extract from an interview with poet Sean Thomas Dougherty – it resonates with me, how I write my own poetry. And I thought I’d share it with you:

“When I compose I often hear a breath and beat in my head that falls out onto the page. Sometimes this is a conscious prosody such as in the Oberek which uses a double stressed line as its foundation. Sometimes it’s syllabics, 10 syllables a line. Sometimes it jags and zips. Sometimes it’s the way the wind is blowing against the side of the house as I write, or the sound of a car revving as it waits at the drug house across the street from where I live.

Sometimes the rhythm is the pace of my dead great-grandmother’s voice circling through the air and speaking to me in Yiddish, which I hear as straight rhythm. I sometimes watch foreign movies with the sound off for the rhythm.

The other day I was composing with Roberto Benigni’s new movie The Tiger in the Snow on in the background, the sound of his stuttering Italian entering the lines. Sometimes it’s the rhythm of a bird’s wings veeing over a city park. Sometimes in the steps of an old woman boarding the bus, saying the rosary. My neighbors yelling, cussing, singing, muttering to themselves.”

Great interview! Thank you Sean Thomas Dougherty.

Link to the full interview below:

 – and here's a short extract from my thesis for my poetry collection, ‘The Other Side of the Bridge’ which I thought I'd share, too – with thanks to writer John Burnside for his article, link at the end.


I use many voices in my poems: narrative, mythical and lyrical. Narrative form enables conversation to take place, often in colloquial speech; the mythical is a way of connecting and exploring universal themes and their relevance to the personal and the lyric is a way to explore aspects of ourselves; selves we may never evolve into or selves we’ve discarded, lost or forgotten.

Writer John Burnside states, “The enterprise of the lyric is in fact, to identify ‘home’, and to locate both speaker and listener in a space of their own” (Burnside 2000).

But, as discussed in Chapter Two, what is meant by ‘home’? And how do we prise the listener away from the fallacy that the speaker of a poem is either the poet or a unified ‘I’?

Philosopher E.M. Cioran observes: “Lyricism represents a dispersion of subjectivity … To be lyrical means you cannot stay closed up inside yourself” (Longenbach quoting Cioran 2004: 68).

I agree with Burnside: “The ‘I’ of the lyric poem is neither poet, nor reader; its place is only temporarily inhabitable. Personal experience is transmuted; in the lyric, poetry is a form of alchemy, that is, the poem becomes a region of near-infinite potential, which anyone can inhabit” (Burnside 2000)."

As poet Stanley Kunitz writes:

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was
            (Kunitz  2002: 217).

No comments:

Post a Comment