Wednesday, July 05, 2006


After reading Alison Bechdel's absolutely terrific graphic-novel/memoir Fun Home, I am thinking a lot about the ways in which writers take risks. Bechdel takes just about every risk in the book (as it were) with Fun Home, and is being pretty thoroughly rewarded in sales & critical acclaim. (Which, for those of us who have been following her work for many years via the fabulous comic Dykes To Watch Out For, is both gratifying and a bit surreal.)

I want to ask my poems what risks they take, what risks they are willing to take. I want them to risk their wordy little lives for me.

In return, I need to lay it all on the line for them. I need to be willing.

I know I'm doing the work I need to be doing when every now and then I scare the crap out of myself or kind of feel like throwing up. (Thinking about applying to MFA programs makes me kind of feel like throwing up, too. Y'all should consider buying stock in anti-emetics.)

I haven't really been writing since getting back to Indiana. Break's over now, I think. The Muse is coming and I better look busy.


jenni said...

"Thinking about applying to MFA programs makes me kind of feel like throwing up, too."


Gawd that made me laugh!

Have you read Dana Levin's essay on the Heroics of Style? Here's a link:

Levin essay

It doesn't talk directly about risk, but I think the ideas apply. I thought it was an interesting essay. I've been wanting to blog about it for awhile -- just too lazy and busy to write anything thoughtful lately.

Garbo said...

Nausea's always one of the signs that I'm on the right path. Also fearful dreams. Yearning, or certainty of future success both precede failure. You'd think I'd learn.

Collin said...

I highly recommend taking risks with the poetry. Don't be afraid to name names, be sexual, explore those places considered off limits and that make you personally uncomfortable. What have you got to lose?

Peter said...

Thanks, I am going to get Bechdel's new book, it looks fabulous.

Anne said...

Jenni, thanks for the essay! Glad my nausea makes you laugh. *grin*

Garbo, I also sometimes feel confident when I end up succeeding and get deathly nervous when I end up falling on my face. Go figure. I can usually tell when it's a productive, "this is what you need to be doing" nausea though.

Collin, yep, those kind of risks -- but also risks of language and form, which are sometimes equally intimidating for me.

Peter, you definitely should. It's well worth it. It's a dissturbing, risky, brilliant piece of work. And the level of detail she achieves in the art is breathtaking (as it always is in DTWOF).

Montgomery Maxton said...

Off the topic, please forgive, but....

....I went through Indiana on Sunday as previously mentioned, but fell asleep, so ... sorry for the lack of shouting out Dickinson poems.

Anne said...

MM: I only hope someone else was doing the driving while you were asleep. :)

Montgomery Maxton said...

Ms. Daisy was. See how much things have changed in the 21st century.