Originally read: April 10, 2013
More information about the Poet: Sarah White
The title leads into the poem. I haven't thought about the uses of that for a while. In this poem in particular, I feel that the title leading into the poem emphasizes the narrative quality, no matter how broad or specific, in the poem. Now, why is this not prose?
Well, this poem is meta-poetic in a humorous way. No, the speaker doesn't enforce paradigms or state what poetry should be, but rather the act of poetry.
And so the intro goes as it should -- the stereotypical recovery meeting, the introduction "Hello, Sarah" to the time spent on not doing, writing in verse:
"I had an anniversary --
six months without a line."
Applause. "But you know
how it goes--
So, I ask myself again, why is this not prose? But the speaker talks about how she wrote a verse about a adolescent girl, and called it "Schmatta." Past me wrote, "Writing versus audience. The poem has to go somewhere -- how the poem is interpreted versus [against] the intention of the poet." The focus shifts to the subject, but turns right back around to the poet.
"Have you made amends / to those you harmed?" And I think this is the core of the poem. The idea that the responsibility of the impact of a poem is on the poet, or another way of looking at it is how responsible is the "muse" on the impact of the poem versus the interpretation of the audience.
This is more of a question that never is answered in the poem. Now if this was a prose piece, then, more than likely, there would be an exploration of this question; however, the poem doesn't answer but continues on with the meeting. How the speaker had to explain to someone through e-mail to justify the writing of verse.
Every other thing in the rest of the poem fades to generality, "Others stand, /admit to gains / and losses in their fight / against the muse." To me, the mention of the muse does a couple things. One, the mention solidifies the idea of the muse -- an external force -- as the problem with verse, and, two, the muse is somewhat inconsequential to the speaker due to the humor and parody tone in the poem. When I state inconsequential, I mean more of regardless the impact of the muse, the speaker will continue to write (no matter if it's prose or verse).
The last line of the poem "Some of us will slip." Has a "cute" quality to it. As though the speaker is saying that what's the worse that can happen? Write a verse.
And here's my contention with this poem. Yes, the poem is humorous, and yes, the poem shouldn't be taken seriously. But I waver on the usage of the stereotypical AA meeting to show these sentiments and humor. There's some absurd, tragic, and sometimes funny things that happen in the meetings, but there's going to be a strong sentiment of trouble or wit's end there. I think my contention focuses around how trivial it is to compare writing a verse meeting to someone who is struggling with addiction meeting -- if that makes sense.