*Tara also goes by the name of "Tree"
Without going into every single section, line, word, I propose an explanation for why I consider “ten” to be a sensational poem. Hence, I am treating myself to an essay rather than an interpretation, or analysis of Tree's poem, “ten”. First of all, how does one even begin to verbalize the title i. ii. iii. iv. v. vi. vii. viii. ix. x. since it is composed of ten Roman Numerals? Does one claim: “The title of this poem is “one, dot, two, dot, three, dot, four, dot…” or “i period, two ii’s, period, three iii’s, period”? How can anyone not be startled, even stuck when trying to vocalize a title of this nature? Certainly we can all agree that we visualize numbers, but how do we translate them into a convenient title? Tree herself simply referred to it as “ten” and given that opportunity to express it in one word, I will refer to this poem as “ten.”
Around various boards, interesting questions have been raised such as “What Makes You a Poet,” “Who (readers) Do You Write For,“ “What are the Rules of Good Poetry.” Personally, I would rather spend my time writing a poem than dwelling on questions that I really can’t answer for anyone including myself. But I’m willing to answer a few questions of my own using Tree’s poem as an example of what I consider is a masterpiece.
“Who do you write for?” Tree wrote, “I write for myself.”
To me, there is no simpler way to state one’s convictions. But not everyone believes or adheres to that same belief. My response was, “I write for the ghosts of my past” which is admittedly saying the same thing in that I write from my memories. I also try to express myself through other media, whether I choose to play the piano, sculpt, paint, draw or write. I am limited by my skills in these areas; not by lack of passion or opportunities. Therefore, I don’t believe anyone who says “I can’t write” if they haven’t tried and one isn’t willing to try if they’re not inspired. I have tried to sing, but I find that I do not have a strong enough voice or range to belt out a tune, so I don’t sing (unless I am alone). Add to the fact that I do not have the talent to carry a note, period.
When it comes to writing, I don’t believe I am writing for any specific reader. If poets write for a specific reader, or target audience, there is the risk that both the writing and the writer might be compromised and, or influenced to seek approval. I believe a writer is responsible to readers in one area only - Clarity. The writing should aim to be understood by more than one person other than the writer him/herself. But let me qualify understanding . To understand a poem doesn’t necessarily require definition, rationalization, analysis, or even interpretation – heaven forbid! Clarity, for me, implies that the writing be attainable for most readers to appreciate it – perhaps, just a word is all it takes to trigger a domino-effect of memory, emotion in the reader.
You may ask how does one appreciate a poem without understanding it? I truly can’t answer that question without going into a long philosophical treatise about “second sight.” Essentially second sight is that which we know is intrinsically “good” or “right” about a poem, an aria, a wine without dissecting all the ingredients that make up these “compositions of art.” I believe we are made up of perceptions and anything less is inconceivable. Otherwise, we merely exist.
On the other hand, when it comes to the writer, he/she owes it to him/herself to follow certain rules of grammar, poetic devices beyond mere superficiality. In order for writers to elicit an emotional reaction or response, they must be willing to invest something of themselves that is true to experience. And when I say "experience," I am not limiting it to direct experiences. A writer can gain experience through many modes of contact: visually, vicariously, educationally and sensorially. Tree, the poet, in every sense of the word, I believe is true to her art.
© Mia 2002