I’ve always preferred poems that seem to be self-aware, poems that communicate a sense of self-awareness both with and without directly trying to. A poem feels more human and organic when it does that. I feel more invited into that kind of poem, feel a sense of camaraderie with my own weird consciousness, when the speaker moves in an informal and conversational manner from raw perception and everyday whimsy to a door of self-realization that parallels the poem’s playful intelligence and evocative storytelling.
Which if I’m being honest just means I go to poems to be taught something about myself that makes me feel more grounded and connected more intimately to me. I know that seems kind of complex, self-centered, and somewhat masturbatory. And it is. But I guess I just think it’s pretty sweet to read poems that read more communicably as opposed to expressively, and besides, I had to move in that direction to broaden and deepen as a poet.
As for writing the stuff, sure, this participant/observer mode of poetry lifting unconscious material into the conscious requires more work on my part to streamline for relevancy. And it has its downsides, meaning that, like the force of gravity in the life cycle of a star, distilling complex subject matter so slowly and patiently has certainly shifted my interests away from the sudden stardust of mystery, cutting disjunction and non-sequitur, and more toward the long-winded heaviness of self-discovery, logic and reason.
Romance dies in this light. Invalidating conventional mysticism while generating highly realized poems that shed a light on the relationship between the slippery powers of perception and misperception can lead to a shitty social life, as it turns out.
But it fulfills me to know that in the process of making sure my poems are easy for the 8th grader in me to understand, I’ve made sure my poems have made less work for my lay readers. I find the demystifying of conventional poetic subject matter in celebration of the mundane and everyday, endlessly enlightening and worth waking up to, and there’s usually a bit of embarrassing humor to be paradoxically both lifted up, yet grounded by along the way toward a more preferable experience of arriving nowhere and realizing no matter where you go, you’re always moving toward yourself.
It’s in this final mirror-like, and empowering realization while reading or writing a poem where I know poetry can be a way of generating and fine tuning a more understandable and relatable kind of vision that isn’t lost to Ego. It’s in reading and writing this kind of poetry that I learn to be more present.
Regrettably, it’s also why I can read a less realized and so less mature poem and know by it’s peculiar language and logic on the page that it was in its trying really hard to encourage unconsciousness and escapism that it revealed it wanted to move toward meaning and the unpacking of it’s symbols. But that the author just wasn’t ready to comprehend the promise of their own poem yet, and so realize they hadn’t fully understood what they were trying to do and how do you think I know that?