It’s a Party and We’re All Inviting Ourselves
Here is one issue of poetry that I never really got resolved in the poetry how-to’s that I became familiar with in undergrad. The complex relationship between, subject, speaker and present persons in a poem is tricky at best, and off-putting at worst.
While much time in my poetic study has been focused on the people present in the poem, and why, a mere side note has been given to the second person and how it can be used and where it should be left behind.
I love the idea of second person, but in preactice, there’s a reason that most times it isn’t even considered an option. The use of this sometimes aggressive and always startling tense can also bring an immediacy to the poem, enveloping the reader in the moment in new and refreshing ways. This poem is not an example of that.
I will speak of this in later, more relevant edits (I promise) but the people present in a poem add to the weight of the movement. Think of an intimate date vs. a bulky family gathering. It’s hard to pay attention to the details if there are 100 people involved. In a similar sense the poem can only hold up so many pronouns, people, and subjects before it starts to sag with the weight of everyone involved. Less is more.
Especially in poems this short, there should be one subject, maybe two… but in my opinion, during this editing, the you is too much…
Note the changes it undergoes when we remove the heavy you from the beginning. The idea of the dead man, the relationship with a greater force can be less personal and more welcoming when it’s not your problem. Sometimes the you works, and it works beautifully. Sometimes we need to know when to say thanks but no thanks.
This poem needs more work; I wrote it by hand and I’ll say it now… but in taking one more step towards a finished product, I can see that the you voice is too much for this piece, its ideas are too odd to designate them to the reader in a personal way. Remember to think twice about who and how many subjects are involved with a poem, the second person being the bulkiest and most cumbersome of them all.