Thursday, July 14, 2005

..but the moon is lovely.

Check out the NASA photo gallery.

I was responding to a comment, and I thought the questions involved might interest other poets and artists, so I'm posting my response here. Feel free to share your thoughts.

Hi Silver Moon,

You're right to choose whatever name you want. And a poet should write about the moon, if that's what the poem requires.

What makes Brehm's poem so complex is its commentary on this very topic. He has begun this perfectly lovely poem involving the moon, but he is distracted by a critical voice that tells him he can't write about the moon. It's not only a statement about trying to avoid cliche, but an illustration of how that persistent, critical voice--worrying about how our art will be judged--affects the art itself.

How do we find that balance, as poets--writing what we need to write, what we are compelled to write, but trying to create quality, literary work, which requires learning what works and what doesn't, evaluating the work that precedes our own, but not surrending our own voice to it--etc., etc., etc. I find it's best to think about it a little, but not too much. The best way is to keep writing, do workshops, and read a lot of poetry.


Ima Poemer said...

sometimes i think everything needing to be said has been said already, so why bother?

but then i think, the difference is the audience.

ones who weren't ready to hear before might be listening now.
so i plunge ahead.

Storm Trooper said...

If you read the Bible, you'll realize that the heavens should not be studied. They are a temptation of the devil! Avert your eyes!

Fiona Robyn said...

Hi Amy - found you through blog explosion, looking forward to exploring. I've blogrolled you, hope that's OK. Glad you've discovered Sylvia Plath!

Chris said...

They say that writers are their own worst critics and its true. We can write and write and write without worrying about what the audience will say, but what we will think of it at the point before another reads it.

It has always been fairly hard for me to share my work, not because what another will think, but because of what I think. Deep inside I know its my own and that makes it good enough - if there is such a thing - while on the same note I have that omnipresent internal critic hovering over my shoulder saying: "Ha! What is THAT supposed to be, you call that a poem?!"

I've always been a big believer in the whole 'no boundaries' when it comes to writing. For the most part thats right, but if one is wishing to become a 'writer' we have to tap into that whole 'acceptance' field of the critical masses outside of our own.

Amy said...


I have heard that said many, mamy times: "It's all been said already," or, "there's nothing new to say. If someone says this to you, remember that it's bullsh*t.

Your point about the audience is true; audiences are always changing, and always gleaning new meaning from works in the context of their own times and experiences. Also, we should never forget how fluid the human experience is. Not only is language constantly changing, but so are we--both writers and reader.

Amy said...


Oh, that pesky, critical voice. The enemy of creativity.

You have a right to write. My opinion is that we should always dig for what is honest--you know it when you hit it. If you right what is true, the rest will take care of itself.

Anonymous said...

“The best way is to keep writing, do workshops, and read a lot of poetry.”

“My opinion is that we should always dig for what is honest--you know it when you hit it. If you right what is true, the rest will take care of itself.”

Hi Amy,

For the past couple of months, my mind was in a total blank. I trembled with fear whenever I tried to write a line or a word. I kept telling myself, my poems have to be something special, something unique, etc.

In the end I wrote nothing. :(

I used to come up with 5 – 6 poems in a month. Although they are filled with clichés and abstractions but they are all dear to me because they are part of my learning process. Now I can’t even write a single line. I am feeling desperate, like a fish out of the water gasping for breath.

Thanks to this post, now I need to do some serious thinking. :)

Anonymous said...

So I'm curious why you concluded the moon poem is about writing about the moon? Did I miss something? Your interpretation makes sense, but the way I read it, the poem could have been about just about anything the poet was trying to free himself of.


Amy said...


Your interpretation is perfectly valid. I'm glad you brought it up; this is why reader comments are so valuable. What is the speaker trying to get free from?

I would phrase it as the speaker, not the poet, trying to free him or herself from something. The reason I pulled the poet into it is because I wondered of he might have been influenced by a critical voice, or a sense that the moon is subject non grata these days.

As for the speaker--the voice of the poem--what might he or she be trying to escape?

Gilbert Koh said...

The moon appears to be caught in a "net of branches" but this is a illusion -

in fact, the moon is millions of miles away from the tree.

The poet sees the moon as being trapped in a net, but then realises that his perception is false -

he tells himself to break free of the illusion - "I've got to break free of that".

You can interpret the poem as one where the poet realises that he is constantly perceiving limitations, restrictions, chains dragging himself down -

when in fact all these limitations, restrictions and chains exist only in his own mind

and are the only "trap" he has fallen into. Hence he tells himself that he has to break free of that.

Amy said...


Yes, the speaker could definitely be referring to an attempt to free him/herself from an illusion. Perhaps the speaker has caught on to a "restriction," as you say, that he was taking for granted, then realized it existed only in his head.

louisamae said...

Hello, I have just found your site today (Through fiona robyn's site), I'm looking forward to reading more. I've always thought that if you want to write, you should read. Anything everything, as widely as possible. It's what I try to do. I'm always amazed at people who write but don't read, It's quite bizarre!

Amy said...


I couldn't agree more. I am always surprised how little aspiring poets actually read the poetry that's out there today. I also agree that all kinds of reading, and writing, benefit each other.