Poetry is a slice of life. If poetry is a slice of life? Whose life?
I have noticed of recent that my poem are increasingly being mistaken as autobiographical. People have so much fused me and my poems that a sad poem means I am depressed and a love poem means there’s some damsel in my life. Minutes after I expose these poems to the public, I am bombarded by inquisitive and concerned friends with messages.
At first I used to get angry and even lash out at people. But I have learnt to view these comparisons in a different manner.
First of all, is the purpose of poetry not to present a mirror of life, whether real or imagined? I daresay it is. If that is true, then a poet whose poetry is being mistaken for representations of (his/her) reality should be glad, because that is a validation of his condensation of some form of reality in permanent verses.
Secondly a poem that doesn’t make you feel (hear, taste, understand, small, touch etc.) the poet’s emotions has not done well. The poem should make your skin feel the cold, heat, love, hate, anger, fear…that the poet is talking about. When it does that, you’ve just lived a slice of life – real or imagined.
That said, I would like to share a little about my poetry. Sometimes, they are cryptic condensation of my life. Sometimes they are open pages from my life. More often than not however, they are fictional, imaginative. My fictional poetry often comes with layering of my own life – like the thing coat of butter in-between two slices of bread that make a poetic sandwich.
Even when a poem has nothing to do with me, it sounds very personal because each poem is internalized and experienced after I observe. I like to become the personal before writing so it comes out like a confession, an autobiographical poem. It often is not.
If am to define the average poem I write, I would call them extended reality – past brought forward or future preempted. Now, these pasts and futures may be experienced/anticipated by myself or on behalf of other personas represented by my pen at the instance of any poetic urging.
Sometimes I write a poem about experiences that I feel I should have had, with references to certain happenings in the past. In such poems I am trying to relive the past, about emotions I (or someone close) felt several years ago. It may be entirely or partly true or entirely fiction. Other times I write about what I suppose I would do in certain situations which I anticipate I would find myself in soon, or which I believe the current train of event in my life are leading to.
It remains true however, that no matter what inspires my writings I leave droppings of myself in the verses and paragraphs. Some of these droppings are unrecognizable.
So poetry is indeed a slice (or slices) of life – the life of the poet and those around him or her.