From Whence Your Poetic Voice And How Has It Evolved?

Posted on December 20, 2010


When I examine my writing, it’s clear to me that I developed a poetic voice for three distinct but sometimes related reasons.

  1. I wanted to articulate some undefined hunch about myself, others, or the world that I didn’t fully understand. Expressing it in a poetic voice provided a framework that helped me contain and then articulate the idea, feeling, thought, or desire.
  2. I wanted to express an idea, feeling, thought, or desire but I didn’t have the courage to express it clearly and directly. Expressing it in a poetic voice allowed me to express what I needed to express and provided the safety of plausible deniability.
  3. I enjoyed crafting a poetic voice for its own sake. Crafting and expressing a coherent poetic voice was challenging and fun.

I’ve noticed, as I’ve become more confident and less afraid of the opinions of others in recent years, I no longer feel the need to employ a poetic voice for the safety of plausible deniability. Indeed, at some point, I decided that if I’m not prepared to go on-record without the safety of plausible deniability, I probably shouldn’t express an idea, feeling, thought, or desire or, at the very least, not share it.

I’ve also noticed that my efforts to write and express ideas, feelings, thoughts, or desires as plainly and clearly as possible often leads to confusion. And because I recognize that my efforts to write as clearly as possible is as much a poetic voice as my more opaque efforts, it’s best to say that my poetic voice now aims for precision and clarity without recourse to allegory, but it will sometimes involve allegory if it helps me better understand an inarticulate hunch.

And I should also note: writing is itself a kind of allegory and, perhaps, this explains why so many of my intellectual predecessors, who have previously explored this poetic voice, eventually fall silent.

What motivates your poetic voice and how has it evolved over the years?

Posted in: Philosophy