Saying the Unsayable
The other day, I had lunch with a fellow poet and we started talking about the unsaid in our writing. In general, why are we afraid to approach certain topics in our creative space? Are there topics that shouldn’t be put on paper and made into art? Why are we afraid to write about what frightens us? I mean, isn’t that what our poetry is for?
In this age of Reality TV, it’s hard to believe that there are topics that are too taboo. Once we put these thoughts on paper, they live and breathe outside of us. I’m not even talking about publishing poems, but the act of creation using our raw subject matter can be daunting.
Personally, not being able to write about certain topics is hindering my creativity. I have a lot to say but am afraid to write about it. Part of my discomfort comes from approaching painful topics such as divorce. Also, part of me is worried that I’ll write the same poem over and over again. Maybe I’m not ready for it. But when I do start to write about it, I won’t be able to stop.
I think about poets such as Sharon Olds, who seem to say—and publish—it all, yet I wonder what qualifies as the unsaid for her. Can’t imagine what it must be like to reveal such personal family details. Yet, I admire her ability to tap into memory and turn it into poetry, seemingly without any self-editing. It must be hard for Sharon, but she's able to put aside her fears and just "go there."
Are there topics so personal you choose not to write about them? If so, are you worried about going to those dark places, or are you concerned about who it might affect?