A Need to Know Basis

You need to know, I have a fragile muse
fashioned from Venetian glass,
blown out and close to shattering.

Despite that, we climb aboard a gondola
and enter the shadow of the Bridge of Sighs,
sighing and shivering from the sudden chill.

But Venice has its own poetry.
The city knows which form to use
and the perfect words to choose.

An old friend, the city promises inspiration,
a poem, free of charge and freely given –
I’ll write it while you pay the gondolier.

Kim M. Russell, 15th January 2019

bridge of sighs

My response to dVerse Poets Pub Poetics: The Art of Confession in Poetry, also linked to Imaginary Garden with Real Toads Tuesday Platform

Anmol is hosting Poetics this week. He has quoted from an interesting conversation between Sylvia Plath and Peter Orr as an introduction to confessional poetry. He tells us that he has been inspired by the nature of confessional verse and its myriad shades, and how it binds the reader with the lived experiences of the poet. He has shared examples of such poetry by Robert Lowell (‘Skunk Hour’), Sylvia Plath (‘The Night Dances’), Anne Sexton (‘Wanting to Die’) and an Indian poet who is new to me, Kamala Das (‘The Old Playhouse’).

Anmol says that all of these confessional poets broke certain barriers and transgressed the accepted norms of society and it takes courage to confess, since this kind of poetry is like an egocentric act of therapy, with poets validating their confessions by making them public.

Which is why he challenges us to write a confessional verse in the style of any of the confessional poets he has mentioned or write something which plays with the ideas they express, sharing our regrets, guilts, sins, humanity, lived experiences, and all that we have kept within. He’d like us to do it with unbridled frankness, hyperbole or hidden allusions and metaphors or in any way we want.

45 thoughts on “A Need to Know Basis

  1. I like this Kim, and I don’t like confessional poetry. Plath was right that a poem has to have some kind of universal appeal, a poet’s dirty secrets are of no interest to anyone but themselves. This does have a much wider scope, it’s Venice, beauty, and all those things that we try to write about and often fail miserably.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jane. I confess (ahem) that I’m not keen on knowing all the ins and outs of a poet’s life. I prefer to work things out for myself. In the end, it’s the poetry that matters not so much the poet.


  2. This is absolutely stunning! I love the idea of Venice promising inspiration, of “a poem, free of charge and freely given.” It’s so difficult to do justice to beauty in verse! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your reference to a muse of fragile Venetian glass puts me in mind of the glass ceiling, and the emergence of Woman’s rights; like civil rights, the ruling class always moves at a snail’s pace when it comes to accommodation and equality.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have not been there but would love to hear and write its poetry. These lines speak to me:

    But Venice has its own poetry.
    The city knows which form to use
    and the perfect words to choose.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my gawd Kim, I have no idea what I was trying to say. I was on an insulin crash and should not have been typing – sorry! I have a couple more folks to apologize to… What I wanted to say is I thought the poem was beautiful and loved the personification of Venice. The photo is magical, and I think
      I was trying to be humorous by adding that you certainly were being “coin savy” by opting out of paying the gondolier… whoa, did I ever crash and burn on the first pass. Sorry again!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A stellar first line — muse “fashioned from a Venetian glass” sets the tone and the mood in the exploration of this process carefully — I love what you did with the confessional narrative here.
    Now, I am only left to look for those Venetian blinds here. Ha! 🙂
    Thanks for participating, Kim.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was just telling Bjorn that this confessional poetry prompt has yielded some stunning work, and this included. That stanza beginning with “but Venice has its own poetry is amazing. What a portrait of place, time and mind. Wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Aw, so well written … Maybe we’re in an age of anti-confession, getting through to the truth through careful attention to surfaces. The big things we might confess 50 years ago seem trivial now — my madness, my raging passion, my etc etc ad infinitum ad nauseam. How comforting and delight this cozy little ride on the greater waters of our poetry.

    Liked by 1 person

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