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Me, Myself, Undisguised

Exploring the Psyche

By Christian LeePublished 2 years ago 3 min read
Me, Myself, Undisguised
Photo by 愚木混株 cdd20 on Unsplash

As is often with me, I find myself not directly answering a prompt, as if I was intimidated by it. I go on rants, or go off course, somehow finding my way to an answer. It reminds me of William Zinsser’s statement about writing in On Writing Well (a book I think every writer should read more than once): “All writing is ultimately a question of solving a problem.”

The prompt I tried to answer is from the Nov/Dec 2022 Poets & Writers magazine, vol. 50, issue 6. Here it is:

Write a poem that reflects how your everyday language becomes the medium for your poetry. Do you see a link between how you use language to communicate in your daily life and how you use it to communicate in a poem?

Here was my response:

For any poet, there is obviously a link between their speech and how they speak through their poetry. This is something I passively think about when speaking. However, I actively think of it when writing.

Recently, I experienced a mental breakthrough. I don’t all know how I got there, but feel more in control of the tension between poetry and prose. Friedrich Nietzsche spoke of this briefly in The Gay Science, a book that speaks and dances in wisdom.

After a decade of off-and-on writing, immense reading, contemplating and executing ideas, analyzing and dissecting some of my favorite inspirations’ work of art, I have learned the distinct discipline of getting to the point and being flowery with language.

I can’t tell whether I love poetry or prose more, but I know that I love words, that I could do with them as numbers in mathematics. This may sound like betrayal of my “indecision”, but I think poetry, in the act of composition, is more likened to the game of sum, difference, product, quotient.

So why poetry? To be clear, it isn’t a victor over or above prose. The two genres are simply mediums accessible to anyone engaged in the act of writing. That could go from copywriting to writing a letter, from composing a poem to writing a grant, screenwriting to sending an email, etc. And in the not so rare yet not so common case in which they fuse together, how is that beauty to be defined?

This hybrid form, if any writer dares to wield it, takes time. As long as I have written and read poetry and prose, I still don’t have it down. This control of the tension between the two reminds me of jazz, one of my favorite art forms. When a jazz musician performs a solo they must maintain a balance between the mental and the physical. I should know; it took me more than a decade to get there. In addition to this balance, the musician must keep the form intact, the audience should feel like the theme is being supported and enhanced, while the former shows eccentricity and clarity.

Writing, for me, is a responsibility, but a fun one, even when I’m editing. But I find it harder to to do than learning an instrument. When I think about how I speak to people everyday, I realize how sensitive I am to every word I speak–slang and proper. It isn’t just words that matter to me. Many elements surround and shape the choice and flow of what we have to say.

In music, sounds seem easier to work with, so long as one possesses the ability to distinguish one note from another. Words, however, not only have an element of music about them e.g., rhythm. They mean something.

The power of definition invites many a turn, in imagination and by interpretation. In poetry, there are many ways a poem can sound, make an appearance, and mesmerize the reader. If you never read E.E. Cummings, check out this poem.

This is why I think prose preys on poetic elements. Poetry’s use of rhythm, diction, metaphor, and the evermore dictum “Show, don’t tell.” incites and inspires the former to be more playful; a skip and a hop.

This isn’t to say poetry can’t be grave and serious. I’m new to reading contemporary poetry, but anyone not familiar with modern poetry, and interested to tap into its waters, would be in for an grim ride. W.B. Yeats, for example, feels like the most somber air I have absorbed.

As for the prompt and the question: I have yet to write a poem about it, but I do see a link between how I communicate daily and how I speak through a poem. Here's a poem on what I perceived as, thought was, perhaps was, or could have been...love.

Thanks for reading. I hope we meet again. Perhaps in one of your Vocal stories! And let me know what you think of this writing. :)

P.S. Here’s a link to my IG profile presenting my music engagements.

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About the Creator

Christian Lee

My nom de plume is Lee Arachnid; think: spider-poet. Here you will find non-fiction and poetry. I interweave elements of nature and my personal experience into uniquely crafted stories. I love idleness, Felidae, literature, and soundscapes.

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    Christian LeeWritten by Christian Lee

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