View Full Version : I, me, my ... the protagonist and author

March 8th, 2015, 04:17 PM
how do you distinguish a piece from the authors own personal experiences and a piece of fiction when you use words such as my,I..ect....sometimes it can add to a piece and sometimes make a piece uncomfortable deciding on the content in relation to the author.

Good questions. I think a lot of people get ideas about authors of poetry and fiction based on what their protagonists do.

Sometimes, it's obvious, when it's fictional. Sometimes, not. I often write from a male protagonist's perspective because there are examples of it all over literature and poetry. It's an easy guise for me to wear.

Awhile back, I asked the staff if I could have a second, pseudonymous, account. The idea was, I didn't want people to think I identified with the protagonist of a series of work that I have written. It's one thing to image something you're not--it's another if you do it really well. I don't know if I do do it well, but a goal of sharing is to improve your work to that point.

As an example, my father didn't molest me, but I have molestation pieces. It's empathy and insight gained from reading survivors' accounts. But when I have posted such things on A Nother Forum, I got PMs from survivors reaching out to me. This was discomfiting. I think at some point, I'll move into a place where that isn't such a Thing for me to deal with. And I have been called an "imposter" for posting from a survivor's perspective. That is uncomfortable as well.

Many of the cliched ones, I go ahead and post because people see and respond to the cliche as cliche. That works for me.

Fats Velvet
March 8th, 2015, 04:47 PM
In answer to Escorial's question, I don't think you can distinguish between the two. In poetry even the most faithful transcription of real thoughts and imaginings into written words introduces a form of distillation into the process, like corn into whiskey, which alters the original impulse that sparked the process. An honest poem still contains a bit of fiction in the sense that it can never be more than a degree of an approximation of reality.

So, I don't think you can tell the difference, not fundamentally.

I think an interesting supplemental question is should a distinction be made?

March 8th, 2015, 04:57 PM
for me it's much easier to feel the poets writing from experience and often these words give me the go ahead to think that...some will use these words when the content is obviously taking you into fantasy or another persons reality but that often leaves me thinking....the poetry i favour is the life experience and when i cannot decide if the poets writing about her/himself with the use of these words than it can leave me confused.

March 8th, 2015, 05:35 PM
I see what you mean, escorial. I think, though, that it isn't inappropriate to write stuff we don't have direct knowledge of. All life is connected and some experiences we have can be extrapolated into experiences we haven't.

What I said above--my father was a monster, but not in that particular way. So I drew from my knowledge of monsters. Yes, that means there is some experience in what I write, but not always to the extent or in the direction my protagonist has. Heck, I can't play baseball but I have written over fifty baseball poems and songs.

I am puzzled that it would cause confusion though. Why does it matter to you if I experience everything I write. I'm not being snarky here; I really want to understand. Must poetry be non-fiction to be "genuine"? I'm getting the sense you believe the answer is "yes"; I believe the answer is "no".

March 8th, 2015, 05:44 PM
the confusion is trying to separate fact from fiction....getting inside another poets thought process is impossible but getting a feel for their work can help.

March 9th, 2015, 02:20 AM
Okay, this may be my teenage naivety showing, but do you belong in the poet's head? Isn't it enough to have the work presented to you? I'm not attempting to be duplicitous but many of the interviews of Famous Authors touch upon the fact that they are about telling stories, not conveying hidden meanings.

Is poetry somehow supposed to be a special window into a poet's soul?

March 9th, 2015, 02:44 AM
Is poetry somehow supposed to be a special window into a poet's soul? Yes, it is. Fictional or not, in a state of universality or from the perspective of a rock, it shows. And you sir, your *ehem* barn door is open. :)

March 9th, 2015, 02:59 AM
poetry can portray so many emotions and ideas that can be just an exercise in the ability of the poets skill with words....but the words that the reader feels the poet is giving a bit of themselves is what makes a piece sublime.

March 22nd, 2015, 08:02 PM
The joke's on me. I got one Like on one of the molestation pieces and no comment on either. I guess one really can own one's art and not have to worry about what other people think.

March 22nd, 2015, 08:12 PM
i must have missed that....often people get caught up in the content of poems rather than there structure..ect...and i think this is were the confusion and at times the willingness to understand overshadows their merit of a piece...when this happens to me the opinion expressed regardless has merit in so much as the poets words initiated a response...when no response is present in any form how you react to this is purely personal to the poet....either way the work stands alone as a creative experience.

March 22nd, 2015, 08:19 PM
Yes, it is a creative experience. I think that is a good expression and I'm stealing it. ;)

You learn from trying on others' shoes. They may or may not fit, but they do teach you something about yourself as well as about their owners.

It's interesting (to me anyway) that my personal piece about alcoholism did get comments. It took an act of courage for me to own that; even though I'm willing to write about other people's pain, I find it's tough to display my own.

March 22nd, 2015, 08:31 PM
if you can make someone feel you understand their plight with words or make them think how such things affect someone than you must be content with that.....finding words from within about yourself and shared carries the same weight in depth and poetic licence

March 24th, 2015, 02:49 AM
Good poets can make the impossible seem real and retain the ring of truth when drawing from real life. It is about immersion and emotion. A deep breath in on the first stanza and under you go. It closes around you like a bubble and the outside world falls away. You become one with the poet's voice and the pronouns cease to matter. It is about the emotion, the flow of verbage, and circumstances. Poetry is visceral; what matters is what you​ as a reader take away from the experience.

May 11th, 2015, 05:00 PM
An exercise in empathy! There probably isn't enough of that in the entire cosmos to satisfy even half our sociopathic planet.

We must to remember that the ego is a survival mechanism, one that is difficult to overcome. When a species is intelligent enough to tell advanced narratives that contain emotion (I say 'advanced', as we know that certain insects tell fact-based narratives to their peers) the egocentricity of its average member is daunting—hence we find it difficult to write poetry from the perspectives of others.

This being said, we have the hard wired ability to empathize with those kin whose genes are similar to ours. Universal empathy is just a bi-product of that, one that we can expand upon with prose and verse.

The trick, in my opinion, to building empathy, is not only to put oneself in another's shoes, but to analyze and make decisions from that perspective. The more you do this, the more you will perceive others as thinking, feeling beings.