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Revisiting My Goals

17 August 2009

I’m working on a series of poems that are meant to express everyday moments that we all encounter. My original idea was to write them in a way that each reader, no matter how different, could relate to the feeling in the poem. For example, in the poem describing dreaming, anyone could read the poem and relate to the oddity of dreaming about things that make no sense when you wake up and remember your dream. Another poem depicts laughter, and most everyone will understand the feelings it describes.

But here’s my problem: I have twelve poems so far, with the intention of writing about five more, and those two I just mentioned are the only two that are universal. The twelve poems are: wait, love, remember, run, pray, grow, create/think, laugh, eat, know, listen, and dream. (The create/think poem was originally “create,” but is a bit blurry now.) Most of us experience these things daily so in that sense it should be easy for readers to relate to them, but the poems themselves are not as universal as I expected them to be. I think my real problem is that the poems don’t go any deeper than their intended meaning. My laughter poem depicts laughter, but it doesn’t say anything new about the subject. Same with the wait poem, the listen poem, and all the others. They are scenes that involve their respective experience, but that’s as far as they go.

I guess I was a bit dense when I began this series. I thought a collection of poems depicting universal experiences would be cool, even fascinating. But it’s not–not on its own, anyway. My mission now is to find a way to deepen this series. Do the poems need to be addressed individually, or as a whole? I know I can strengthen them individually so they stand on their own as good poems, but will that detract from their meaning as a whole? I wonder if it matters in the end what my intention was for a series. Maybe the poems will stand for themselves, and collectively they will explain themselves, even if their meaning isn’t what I intended. The original idea is still important as my starting point and inspiration, but it doesn’t need to be the end product.

That’s a relief. It’s a bit disappointing though–I really liked my idea! I can still work with it, but I need to let the poems work themselves out instead of forcing them to do what I want.

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