I really enjoyed our interview with Maria Gillan because I feel I can trust a poet like her to the truth about the world (which is not necessarily the definitive truth but what memory recalls as truth, a combination of how things are remembered and how that changes over time.) Maria said “memories are clouded and shaped by the people we are,” but was insistent that she doesn’t make things up.” Her poems were easy to follow and relate to possibly because she no longer “hides behind” poetic devices, which was something I did as a young writer. I remember when I first started writing poetry at age thirteen and how after reading those poems years later I discovered how bad they actually were! I was inspired by all the opportunities her work has provided for young (and old) poets and I am hopeful that I will continue writing my whole life and someday maybe even be good at it. I am an autobiographical poet for the most part although I might lie in a poem if it is necessary (but of course I would never change the meaning or hide a part of myself from the reader.)
It was interesting to hear her say why she doesn’t write about her daughter since artistic integrity is something I always try to keep in mind. I think I can take a hint from Maria and stop being so vague about everything, except when it is appropriate for the poem I am writing. I don’t make poems confusing intentionally, but I wrap my mind around each word and cut poems down to the necessities (when I have the time!) if I have learned anything in workshop it is that people might not read every word as carefully as I write it so I have to make it understandable so they will see what lurks behind the actual words (in connotation-land). (I will have you know that I had to stop writing this review for five minutes to write a poem for that title, yay!)
Anyway, back to the interview! I felt connected with her immediately because of our shared interest in the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My fiancé makes fun of me for reading them and watching the television show that was based off them but there is something so about them. There was one episode in which Laura submitted a book to be published in a contest but the editor ended up changing the book to make it more “exciting.” Laura gave up on publishing if it meant “lying” about the people that were most important to her but she did get the stories of her youth published much later with the help of her daughter.
There is something to be said for simple stories that give a snapshot of a person’s life and that is what I find when I read Maria Gillan, she has a narrative style and honesty about her work with the added bonus of the reader being able to pick and choose which events they want to experience or to read them all as they were arranged by her. I saw a lot of my mistakes in the examples she provided of herself (trying to be T.S. Eliot… and in my case also trying to be Edgar Allan Poe!) I am learning to love my own voice and am inspired to learn more about Allan Ginsberg and his background because I could relate to what we talked about briefly in the interview. My life is ripe with poems and I don’t need to travel to Oz to find memorable characters, they were around me all along…