Self-Portraiture Here and There

Firstly, there's this: clicky.

Secondly, I've been seeing lots and lots of self-portrait poems from all stripes of writers. I was reading Sean Nevin's Oblivio Gate and he's got a sequence of Self-Portrait poems towards the end of the collection. Mind you, the poems are from the POV of a persona, but still.

Then there's this poem by Matthew Dickman.

Now, on the same site, there's this poem by Tracy K. Smith.

There are many others on the Fishouse site as well.

John Gallaher, earlier, talked about this collection: Self Portrait with Crayon

Needless to say, all this self-portraiture is making me feel less and less confident about all the self-portraits I've been writing. I've got over twelve poems with "Self-Portrait" in the title and I see them as central to the manuscript. Should I care about what other poets are doing? I shouldn't. It is, after all, a self-portrait of my speaker. I am not and do not inhabit the self-portraits of those other poets. But it makes me wonder if there's a tapping of the collective unconscious going on here--is there a broader gesture that demands an examination of the self?

Ultimately, this brings me to my own problems with this third manuscript. I am and am not the I in my poems. I am and am not the provocateur of the conflicts and the actions that happen in the poem. I too distrust the I. So perhaps I'm writing these self-portraits to pin the I down.

The I makes me self conscious. I profess that I am most comfortable wearing other selves, masks. My first book--mask. My second book--mask, the gaze outward, not inward. And here it is, the third manuscript--I all over the place.

Does the I need a foil? A counterbalance? A moment where the I says, "Enough about me. Tell me about yourself?"


Come see me at The Whidbey Island Writers Conference where I'll try not to be too self-referential.


Album Meme:

This is another 20 something meme that I was hit with on Facebook--20 most influential albums.

In no order, here they are:

Paul's Boutique The Beastie Boys
Murmur R.E.M.
Songs to Learn and Sing Echo and the Bunnymen
Speak and Spell Depeche Mode
The Soft Bulletin The Flaming Lips
Nevermind Nirvana
Nebraska Bruce Springsteen
1999 Prince
Trinity Session The Cowboy Junkies
Simon & Garfunkle's Greatist Hits Simon & Garfunkle
Raw Power The Stooges
Zen Arcade Hüsker Dü
The White Album The Beatles
Phrenology The Roots
White Chocolate Space Egg Liz Phair
Blood on the Tracks Bob Dylan
Everybody Knows This is Nowhere Neil Young
Grace Jeff Buckley
Brighten the Corners Pavement
Odelay Beck


For CDY, my current spin:

Oliver de la Paz