Writing in another voice
As a poet, I tend to return to the same subjects over and over, notably family, relationships, and to a lesser extent, the landscape around me. In spite of the fact that these subjects are near and dear to my heart, some recent experiences have shown me that I care about, and am capable of writing poetry about, much more.
Last year, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNo) as well as a chapbook challenge that involved writing a poem every day through the month of November. Because I wanted to tie the two together, I invented a poet as part of the novel and wrote the poems in his voice.
The novel is a tween sci Fi, and I wanted to bring out the spiritual values of the aliens, and so my poet's work was intended to be one of their sacred texts and contained a fair number of prayers, affirmations, and poems that spoke to the society's values. I found myself slipping into my imaginary poet's head, and despite the fact that I don't usually write spiritual or religious poetry, these works flowed easily, and I had no difficulty either deciding on the subject matter or in expressing what I felt would be my poet's values. I ended up with thiry poems, thiry poems about subject matter I cared about deeply, but which, if not for the novel, it would never have occurred me to write about.
THis year, I'm again participating in Nano, and I've again created a poet, this time a Terran (human) poet, and this time, also, I find myself slipping easily into my created persona, and again, writing about subject matter that I would not normally take up. Constance, my imaginary poet, it appears, is far more political than I. She has written a number of poems that speak to the chaotic political situation of her time, a hundred years before my novel begins, and about a hundred years in our future.
As a poet, I am always striving to extend myself, both in terms of what and how I write my poems. Imagining myself a different person has proven to be a way to do that.
We were meant as a sacrifice to expediency,
an excuse to attack the innocent,
who meant only to watch over us
Yet we have ears to hear the silence,
the unspoken, the hidden,
the ashes of those sacrificed by corrupt government
on the alter of public policy.
Lies kept the peace. We spoke truth,
we let loose war among ourselves.
What else could we have done?
Broken promise, broken dreams,
fall to politician's schemes.
Wish for power, wish for might,
wave a flag and say all's right.
If the people ask for more,
find a way to start a war.
Let the trouble be distraction
from unsatisfying action,
poverty and hunger, too,
to obfuscate what's real and true.