WSC Confessional Poetry Writing Workshop

WSC Confessional Poetry Writing Workshop

WSC Confessional Poetry Writing Workshop recognizes an important step in discovering your unique and authentic voice through the writing of poetry. Almost all types of poetry sustain a certain degree of confessional techniques. Likewise, this style of poetry crosses genre lines. The key poetic devices are narration, imagery, metaphor and biography.

In addition to the techniques and poetic devices discussed in philosophical and SOC poetry, the confessional style incorporates the proverbial “I” and in doing so, adds a biographical slant. The abstractions selected in this style are based on the writer’s personal experiences. This brings the author into the conflict and in doing so, exploits the use of narrative, or storytelling.

It shows a story based on a personal or biographical experience, solely through images. Each line boasts a prominent visual or sensory detail.

As always, the writer lets the images and metaphors ‘show’ the content, as opposed to ‘telling’ or ‘explaining’ the story. In confessional poetry, I show a story based on my personal, or biographical experience, solely through images, so each line should boast a prominent visual or sensory detail. By extending that detail, the poet creates a great comparison more likeable to a dominant metaphor.

Poets who best exemplify this style would be Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath. Their poems are based on poignant personal experiences with emotional repercussions. Each is the ominous “I” or first person narration, which means that a “story” must be told through the poetic verse. Yet, the poems read like a poem, not as a story, so the images selected from the context of the story must be at the forefront of the poem’s direct.

How does the use of the “I” alter the emotional impact of confessional poetry?  

Confessional Poetry, in its biographical style, emotionally impacts both the writer and the reader.  It elicits the discovery of the writer’s authentic voice and at the same time, draws in the reader to explore their own. The key techniques and poetic devices include the use of “I”, subtle abstraction, narration/story-like, imagery, sensory detail and metaphor.

Courage

Even though the title may introduce the abstraction, Sexton and Plath make vivid use of the metaphor and descriptive language to bring the specific abstraction to life. For example, this is Sexton’s first line in ‘Courage‘: “It is in the small things we see it. The child’s first step, as awesome as an earthquake.” She only used the word ‘courage‘ or a derivative, 4 times, in the entire poem.

Every line was a biographical flow of incidence-related metaphors, prominent visuals or sensory details introduced in a way that flowed like a story. You get the distinct feeling these events happened to her even though she draws in the reader using the pronoun ‘you’.

Lady Lazarus

Platt uses the mode of ‘first person’ with ‘me’ and ‘I’ show a personal or biographical experience, but solely through images, in ‘Lady Lazarus‘. She lets the images and metaphors ‘show’ the content, as opposed to Gibran’s style of ‘telling’ or ‘explaining’ the story with explicit use of the abstraction then followed by descriptive language. In confessional poetry extending that detail lets the poet creates a great comparison more likeable to a dominant metaphor. It is through the density of this visual imagery that the narrative follows a developing conflict yet stays as a poem as opposed to being a story.

In ‘Lady Lazarus‘, abstractions of oppression, suicide, and resurrection/rebirth are based on the Platt’s personal experiences. But, these are not terms explicitly stated to the reader. ‘Dying’, ‘vanish’, ‘grave’, and ‘ash’ are the more explicit clues to the main abstraction or theme and they are each only used once.  

Yet, Platt’s personal references such as ‘my right foot’, ‘I am only thirty’, and ‘I do it so…” are uses more frequently. It brings the author into the conflict and increases the sense of values and vulnerability. In doing so, expands the use of narrative, or storytelling, still maintaining the density of the imagery in each line.

“I”dentity

In Ariel, Platt, the theme is ‘I’ness with much ambiguity. She brings together the autobiographical, the feminist, creativity, and the Freudian into a psychological reintegration.

In the reading and the re-reading, both Sexton’s and Platt’s poems come alive in a sense that my emotional connection grew–an empathetic connection not only to the personal situations of the writers but also, in how I was feeling myself.

Therefore, emotional literacy, is expanded through the reading and further developed, personally through my own efforts to write Confessional Poetry.

Highlights from my personal exploration into confessional poetry writing

I find the use of “I” or “you” to be so powerful that it required examples from both the poetry and the my analysis to help me explain my personal responses. I highlight these below:

~ both poets elicit the discovery of my authentic voice and my emotions 

personally, I found that  Sexton and Plath make vivid use of the metaphor and descriptive language to bring the specific abstraction to life.

~ for example, this is Sexton’s first line in ‘Courage‘: “It is in the small things we see it. The child’s first step, as awesome as an earthquake.” She only used the word ‘courage‘ or a derivative, 4 times, in the entire poem.  But from her use of personal pronouns, we distinctly feel her taking ownership of courage, or the lack of courage in her ‘self’

 ~ the reader get the distinct feeling these events happened to her even though she draws in the reader using the pronoun ‘you’.

~ Platt uses the mode of ‘first person’ with ‘me’ and ‘I’ to show a personal or biographical experience, but solely through images, in ‘Lady Lazarus‘.

~ She lets the images and metaphors ‘show’ the context which is her life, the “I” of the poem, as opposed to Gibran’s style of ‘telling’ or ‘explaining’ the story with explicit use of the abstraction then followed by descriptive language.

~ In ‘Lady Lazarus‘, abstractions of oppression, suicide, and resurrection/rebirth told side-by-side with the term “I”are based on the Platt’s personal experiences. But, these are not terms explicitly stated to the reader. ‘Dying’, ‘vanish’, ‘grave’, and ‘ash’ are the more explicit clues to the main abstraction or theme and they are each only used once.  

By personalizing the poetry, you (the reader) is drawn into the discovery process of how you would feel or how do feel in relationship to these terms and how they connect to the idea of Lady Lazarus.

~ Yet, personal references such as ‘my right foot’, ‘I am only thirty’, and ‘I do it so…” are uses more frequently.
 This are just a few of the examples from my reading which shows how Platt’s writing brings both Platt and myself into the conflict and in doing so, the story becomes more compelling. 

~ The use of “I” elicits a stronger connection to the narrative.

~ In the reading and the re-reading, both Sexton’s and Platt’s poems come alive in a sense that my emotional connection grew–an empathetic connection not only to the personal situations of the writers but also, in how I was feeling myself.

~ Therefore, my own emotional literacy, is expanded through the reading and further developed, personally through my own efforts to write Confessional Poetry

I was thoroughly captivated by both Platt and Sexton’s personalization of poetry and the opportunity to explore writing confessional poetry.

~ namasté, Leah J. 🕊

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