Honesty and Poetry

ImageAt what point is poetry TOO honest? Here’s a question I’ve been struggling with lately. There are some things that people just don’t want to know, and yet, poets have always had the propensity to “overshare” every tiny scrap of minutiae that inhabits their lives. In a sense, it’s what we do.

Recently I wrote a poem that I know would be horribly unpopular with the modern literati because of its right-centric viewpoint and brazen language. What’s more, I’ve considered deleting the poem altogether just because it’s so blunt. Yet there’s always been room in poetry for verses that shriek personal truth — I’m just not certain that this piece is one I would personally be comfortable putting out there for the world to read. Yeah, I know; now you’re curious, right?

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine was banned from reading his poetry at an area coffeehouse near where he lives because he used politically incorrect language in his writing. People got offended (gasp!) and the owner of the joint “disinvited” this friend, telling him that his poetry should conform to the hyperliberal ethos of his establishment. Now granted, people could read explicit poems about sodomy and BDSM all night and feel free to do so, but a well-written poem from the other end of the political spectrum was grossly unwelcome. It seemed that open-mindedness was only extended to those whose viewpoint would meet with “house rules.” Hypocrisy at its finest. 

Questions for readers to ponder today: At what line does poetry become too revealing? Is there such a line, or is it only when we flirt with danger that real and raw emotional writing occurs? Is there room in today’s literary realm for voices of dissent from both sides of the proverbial aisle? Your comments appreciated.

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