Poetry is revelation, but poets do not necessarily reveal themselves or tell us their life-stories in their poetry.
Certainly since the earliest times, poets have felt the need to share with others a sense of the importance to themselves of their experience of life. How have they gone about doing this? By trying to find what Coleridge called the best words in the best order. Indeed, the purpose of poetry may be described as that sharing with others of what the poet has felt and then made. In this respect readers may find poetry meaningful precisely because the poet’s original experience feels real in the reading of it, and the ‘real’ is contained in the ‘reveal’.
But how true need poetry be in order to feel real to the reader? Isn’t it already enough that what a poem reveals to us in some way resembles our own experience of the world or, though different, is nevertheless recognisable to us at the level of feeling and idea?
Poetry and Autobiography is divided into a series of lessons. Each lesson contains a set of ideas and questions as springboards for your own work, illustrated by published poems from around the world and throughout history. And since there is no correct time to write an autobiography (gone are the days when writers felt they should leave the task until their old age), a life-story recaptured, in instalments as disjointed as our lives are unintended, may reflect life in progress just as it can be seen as work-in-progress.
About Graham Fawcett View Profile
Graham lectures on poetry in the UK, Italy, Spain and America, and has made many programmes on literature and music for BBC Radio 3 as writer, presenter and interviewer, including a play about Myslivecek and Mozart, a verse translation of Dante’s La Vita Nuova for BBC Radio Drama, documentaries with Luciano Berio and Pierre Boulez, and conversations with Miroslav Holub, Thom Gunn, Adrienne Rich, Czeslaw Milosz, Ivan Lalic, Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa.
I would be lost without The Poetry School courses.