(Speaking about Robert Lowell’s poetry) “Lowell removes the mask. His speaker is unequivocally himself, and it is hard not to think of Life Studies as a series of personal confidences, rather shameful, that one is honor-bound not to reveal.”M. L. Rosenthal’s article “Poetry as Confession.”
I’m taking a four week confessional poetry course with midnight & indigo. Founded in 2018, midnight & indigo is a small publisher and literary journal that provides a space for Black women writers to share their narratives with the world.
Tw weeks in and I’m loving the course, Tell Me Something Real: How to Write Confessional Poetry. Not only is the tutor, Schyler Butler knowledgeable, and thorough providing great examples for poetry within this genre all from Black women, but the group of writers signed up for the course bring it every week with their insight and feelings around each poem we read and discuss.
And then we get to trial out what we’ve learnt through these close writings within our own writing, as the sessions finishes with time to write a first draft of a poem and then share it with the group. I’m enjoying what I’m coming up with after being inspired. Because in all honesty, from time I’ve been a confessional poet but have never smashed the term on it.
Confessional poetry in essence can be distilled to 4 main components.
- Be of an intimate subject matter.
- Use the first person.
- Be autobiographical or seen/ appear to be.
- Use skilled craftsmanship.
I’m working on a new body of work now. So still in the draft stage but I’ll share a poem from time here, as evidence of my appreciation and dance with this form of poetry.
Within my family, there are white women.
White women who married black men. I forget,
neglect the fact that their blood flows through mine.
Trace the past, a sea of faceless white is mine.
The black men forefront, a mist of women
behind. Their names, I don’t know or forget.
They are the enigma, shadows. Forget
the cleaning and cooking, their duty and mine,
they went against the grain, steadfast women.
In the corner of the frame, you white women
are not forgotten. Your spirit is mine.
Family Album, 2011