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Poetry Buzzword: Authenticity

Updated: Jan 26, 2023

If you paid attention in literature classes in high school, you learned about rhyme scheme, imagery, and techniques like alliteration and onomatopoeia, but there comes a time when you start nose diving into the poetic world that you start to notice discussions are based around certain topics.

I think the biggest discussion revolves around authenticity. We, as scholars, readers, and/or dabblers in creative forms, have consistently wondered if what we write is genuine, or if somehow our perception of a moment innately twists it and that ruins its authenticity.

Once we come to terms with the fact that our perception and processing of an event is still valid, even if it differs from that of another person, we then need to come to terms with must all poetry be nonfiction?

Authenticity in poetry is something I've personally found to be both necessary for connecting people, but also confounding in that not everything a poet writes must be true. "Goblin Market," a narrative poem by Christina Rossetti, is clearly fictitious but does that make it any less good? Obviously not. And this isn't even to talk about epic poems.

But what about poems that are what I might call, non-fiction fiction? They lack magical or mythological elements and firmly assert themselves as an event that is in every way plausible to have happened. They often are not in an epic format and they find themselves more and more moving away from traditional forms and into more easily readable prose poem and free verse templates. Are these poems somehow less than ideal because they may lack 'authenticity'?

John Keats is regularly quoted as talking about "the truth of imagination" and questions the "authenticity of the Imagination" (in a letter to Benjamin Bailey in like...1817 which you can read more about here). If read as a suggestion that the workings of our imaginations are reflections of possible, real events or emotions than is there any poetic work that truly lacks authenticity? Or will it all resonate with a sympathetic reader (I find myself leaning to adding 'as long as the writing is strong,' would that be problematic?) as so many people experience so many varying events through-out their lives? And that's not even beginning to talk about what we can learn about the human condition from fiction poetic works as well.

I'm not saying we shouldn't talk about authenticity, I'm just saying an authentic moment/exchange/emotion can come from fictional poems as well. They do not need to be genuine, truly authentic works to be relatable.

New updates: Some peeps may have noticed that I didn't update last Thursday. This is because I'm moving to updating every two weeks. My next updates will be on 09/19, 10/03, and so on.

I've done this because I have a plan! And I need to reduce stress.

I'm setting up a some writing accounts across a few platforms online and playing with creating a Patreon and linking everything together, which is taking some time (mini-tirade: it's the bank account, that's taking all the time. No one mentions that you can't get a bank account in your home country without being there or jumping through a thousand hoops. Calling banks tonight after getting denied online consistently).

When it's all done, I'm hoping to have an update schedule of two to three stories updating every two weeks, along with this blog. That's a lot! So I'm going ahead and spacing out my time to make life nice and easy.

As for my subs? I'm at over 30! Woo! I'm going to re-focus my attention to my memoir novel now.

My poetry collection has an update... I decided not to sign with Wipf and Stock because they wanted me to pay my own typesetting fee and I would never make any money off of the royalties offered. #sorrynotsorry

What does this mean for my poetry collection? Well, I've submitted the bad boy to some more places, entered it in some contests, and we'll see what sticks. It's on the thinner end for a collection and too fatty for a chapbook, so it's been a challenge to find places that accept the amount of poems I have in it.

Reminder for all my poetry people: 40 pages of a poetry is low for a collection, please aim for at least 50.

...I see chapbooks in my future after this, no lie.

Anyway, enjoy some photos from the Beijing zoo!


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