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I tend toward the view that the very act of writing poetry drives the PP (poetry perpetrator) towards an essentially moral position, because the best poems, the ones that really communicate, that cut close to the bone for reader and writer alike, are the ones that are most true, most compassionate, most universal and thus most widely accepting, most unostentatious and empty of vanity, ego, self-seeking. I also think the nature of poetry is to travel to the depths, the edges, the margins, the exaltations. The rigour of this exploration tends to dissolve racism, sexism, classism, all forms of division and ego-protection. How can someone who deals in the details of space and commas and specific words not notice the effect of an overweening male pronoun, for example, or become aware of the blind assumption of superiority built into so many structures in our language? If you're striving to dig out the subtlest connotations and evocations of a word, how can you not notice if these are destructive or ugly? Of course, to notice is not necessarily to correct. The poet still operates within the bounds of her or his own society, upbringing, social class, etc., which is why political activists and thinkers remain vital. But I'd aim to write any kind of good poetry not through a set of rules, but by setting out on a quest for honesty and depth and fidelity to the craft. All that said, it's a quest not an arrival.


Susan McMaster's works copyright © to the author.


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