Friday, January 4, 2013

on "confessionalism" in memoir and more

I’ve read many intelligent articles on the issue of “confessionalism,” pieces that critique it and pieces that defend it. What’s fascinating to me about this article in particular is that the author links confessionalism in memoir with the same impulse in poetry and other genres of writing. Some articles lament the “memoir culture” we live in now, but this one speaks practically about it, from a writer’s perspective. Where do I stand? Personally, I think a lot of great work comes from being vulnerable on the page. I love reading and writing memoir; the speaker in my poems is always basically me. I think it takes courage to write about one’s personal struggles, and I applaud that courage. I don’t think everyone absolutely must write this kind of work—there’s so much wonderful space for many kinds of powerful and gorgeous writing—but I’m a fan of it. Anyway, read this article by Susan Shapiro. Here’s a quote from it:

“The Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Robert Lowell, who was known for his stark confessions, once wrote: ‘I am tired. Everyone’s tired of my turmoil.’

Not really. Decades after his death I’m still reading — and quoting — him.”

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