On the weekend, I read an article in the NYTimes about Frederick Seidel, whom I’d never heard of. He reads six of his own poems in a multimedia piece attached to the article. His six readings, which last less than a quarter of an hour, taught me more about what I do wrong when writing than anything I’ve ever come across.
After hearing the readings, I was moved to almost complete silence. My only reaction was to send links to the article and readings to the man I love.
Overnight, the readings’ effect percolated into my soul.
Thirty-six hours later, I was writing differently. The first poem I wrote after reading Seidel’s work is called On a string of hours. If you click on Seidel’s name in the poem, you will link to his readings.
Seidel’s effect on me has nothing to do with my liking his work or not (I’m not sure about liking him yet). It has to do with his readings having shown me that he’s freed himself from convention so completely that he can turn around and use it in his poems as a tool. His unshackled state means he can turn in any direction and make poetic sense.
The voice for On a string of hours comes from love, as is the case for all poems I write. The greater freedom from drama it shows comes from what I learned from Seidel’s readings, coupled with the unvarnished honesty that true love brings to my life.