How Confessional Poets Influenced My Poetry (and a Special Literary Announcement)

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.

– John Keating, Dead Poets Society

from “Cuttings” by Theodore Roethke

I recently found an old copy of Eight American Poets, an anthology edited by Joel Conarroe, at a yard sale, amongst a smattering of poetry and writing books that all wanted to come home with me. I was immediately reeled back to college–specifically, to a Modern American Poetry paper in which I explored confessional poetry through the works of Lowell, Berryman, Sexton, and Plath. It was my favorite academic paper I ever wrote. Not only because I got to read all the Plath poems, but because I was introduced to more poets who stirred up the dark, honest truths inside of me the way Plath’s poetry did. Because I found a home for my own poetry to curl up in. Because I could put a name to what I was doing when I vulnerably put pen to paper.

In the end, I found a handful of poets who went on to influence my own poetry. It was through their influence and my own writing that I confessed my darkest thoughts and deepest emotions, that I found a way to be vulnerable, or as vulnerable as I knew how to be.

“The Minimal” by Theodore Roethke

Vulnerability is something I struggle with, both in personal relationships and in my writing. Being vulnerable in my writing and sharing that writing with others has taught me–and still teaches me, because vulnerability is hard, ya’ll–that it’s ok to expose your inner workings, your inner battles, your truths. Actually, it’s pretty fucking important. The more vulnerable we are with something like mental health, the more we break down the stigma surrounding it and the more people feel comfortable seeking help.

“Music Swims Back to Me” by Anne Sexton

It’s not easy to share poems that express my personal struggle with depression and anxiety. It’s dark, sticky, and hard to explain. But sharing them helps me heal. It helps me feel seen and understood. In a way, it also helps me see and understand others. And if I can make one person feel that, the way other poets have done for me, I would consider myself a successful poet.

“Tulips” by Sylvia Plath

Announcement Time!

This is all to say (for those of who have made it this far, which is perhaps why I’m burying this lead,) I’ve got something in the works: a poetry book! It’s always been a dream of mine to publish a book of poetry, and now feels like the right time to make it happen. It will be self-published, so nothing fancy, but it will still be a legit book. And I promise it won’t all be depressing and shit. Issa journey.

Winter 2018. Stay tuned.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *