Author photo by Peter's son, Walter Bakowski

Monday, September 14, 2009

Writing a parent poem

There is the immediate moment and there is the past, which in literature has been compared to an ocean, a hall of mirrors, another country. Whatever it is, it is worthy of exploration. In remembering, let’s remember the heightened moment – our first reading of a certain book, a reoccurring childhood nightmare, seeing a parent cry, the trouncing of a bully.

To write a poem about a parent or both parents is a vital challenge. It requires honesty, that the writer remembers correctly, that the writer rigorously refrains from diluting/defusing events and words spoken. A parent poem requires exposure, to put family members on the stage.

The parent poem is invaluable to both the writer and the reader. By revealing the personal, frankly and vividly, the writer holds high a lantern, illuminates human lives, be they exemplary, imperfect or scarred. The best autobiographical writing finds the riveted reader saying out loud “Yes, yes, I’ve felt exactly like that!”

The parent poem is needed. Whether it’s a homage or a leap through fire you’ll only learn through writing it.