top of page
  • kingalipinska627

What does self-image mean in poetry

This post started with the following question: What does self-image mean in poetry, especially if you don't want to write either confessional or autobiographical poems?

I was sitting in the sun, listening to the birds, taking great pleasure in the breeze, the new blossoms—

so the fact that once I started thinking about the question, that it turned into a bit of a carnival of ideas, well I lay the blame for that at Spring’s feet.

I realize that this tendency to scribe relationships between my “self” and my world is a major part of my self-image. The question now is how does that show up in my poetry, and does this mean anything for you?

There is poetic subject of course, but the main ones to describe self in poetry have been confessional and autobiographical subjects. Is there another subject position that could work in poetry?

There is also form. The lyric form is most common today. But there are many others: sonnets, ghazals, concrete, etc.They all have resonance and power to shape the subject, so which one is most suitable for self-description?

What about metrics? Iambic pentameter has ruled in the Western world for a long time, but personally I find that I write more in tetrameters, or even trimeters and vary quite a bit between iambic and the other feet (trochee, dactyl, anapest, spondee, and pyrrhic). Is that because the notion of what “self” is has changed so deeply since the Enlightenment that a regular meter just doesn’t adequately represent “self” any longer? If that’s the case, then what am I? What are you?

What about diction? Are there word sets that work better to describe who you are? Latinate versus the Anglo Saxon—suspend vs hang, imagine vs think, select vs pick, assist vs help, consume vs eat, imbibe vs drink. If, like me, you have a post-graduate education, then Latinate terms are a part of self. If you are just a Western human, also like me, then you also have Anglo Saxon words aplenty (key cuss words are very old, and very Anglo Saxon). So how do you represent that in poetry?

Already, that’s 4 very big questions, so what I’m going to do is explore 1 each week starting next Tuesday. Having said that, you can start thinking now about how you, as a poet, would answer them. Look at your work, try to figure out what you do.

11 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page