Saturday, December 3, 2011

Writing in another voice

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.

Trying Times

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?

Corrupt Government

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.


Shirley Corder said...

Maggie, Glad to see there are other crazy people who double up. This year I completed a book for WNFIN (Writing NonFiction in November) as well as a rebel book for NaNoWriMo. It's my first time writing non-fiction under pressure and I didn't enjoy it as much as a novel, where the characters take over!

Marian Lanouette said...

This was my first NaNo and I completed it. I didn't see my name in the list very disappointed. It was fun but I won't do it again. It will take me longer to edit than it did to write those 53,000 words. Marian

Margaret Fieland said...

Marian, that's very true -- the first novel I wrote (not for nano) I wrote the first draft in a weekend -- then it took me two years to get it up to publishable quality. Last year's Nano novel took me from December through June to revise. Editing and revising is, IMO, way harder than writing a first draft.


Suzanne said...

I enjoyed both the poems, especially Corrupt Government.

Karen Cioffi said...


Wow, I give you and Shirley credit - it seems so daunting to do just one of these writing projects.

Love your poems. Like Suzanne, especially the gov't. one.

Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing

Anonymous said...

These are beautiful poems and your story about how easily you were able to slip into someone else's voice was very interesting. I haven't ever had that experience, but hopefully if I ever do have to do so, I would be able to do it. Very interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

The power of imagination to spark our creativity. Such heartfelt poetry even if it is from the heart of your alter-poet.

Nancy Famolari said...

The poems are great. I found the idea of working in someone else's voice fascinating. Not sure I could do it, but it's interesting.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Thank you for sharing both your poems and Nano experience. Not sure I could do that. Personna poems. People interested in writing them can look that term up in books on writing poetry.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Excited about the new edition of The Frugal Book Promoter (updated! expanded! and now a USA Book News award-winner!)--

Margaret Fieland said...

Carolyn, I guess if I can channel a fish, I can manage a poet or two {grin}.

Anne Duguid Knol said...

Enjoyed this post and the poems. Food for thought.

Magdalena Ball said...

What an interesting way of combining poetry with fiction writing (and Nano with a poetry challenge!). Very inventive and clever!

Heidiwriter said...

Fascinating! You wrote almost as two different people. Very interesting.

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