Pushing Poets and Then Some

The Writer’s Chronicle, November 2013


It’s not a clean sweep, but as far as interviews and articles go this month, The Writer’s Chronicle is focused on poets and poetry. I’m a little disappointed but not shocked, certainly. This is an academically based publication; and where do today’s poets run for cover? Academe. I’m no longer a poet, haven’t been for years, and I don’t feel qualified to critique such articles or their writerly content. What I do do, however, is to scratch around in such pieces for anything an aspiring fiction writer (long and short) might find useful. 

I didn’t find much here – not that what’s written isn’t useful – I just don’t find much that fits my own presumed needs. An interview with Jane Hirshfield by Amy Pence, however, holds that writers (poets, in this case) are tasked with divining the music of their deeper thoughts, placed somewhere beneath the surface chatter. This is good for all writers to understand, because your own speaker’s rhythm is an essential part of your voice.

But one article by Larry Feign on dialogue in historical fiction was a must for me, a veritable keeper. The thrust here: How does a writer come up with dialogue appropriate to a particular historical era? His answer: fake it. This isn’t as brash as it seems, because he merely cautions against using the overly stilted dialogue, say, of Elizabethan England for a modern take on the era. Instead, do such things as injecting a tad of appropriate formality, resisting contractions, throwing in an archaic word here and there. In other words, intimate the feel of that era’s speech. 

But if you’re a poet or an avid reader of poetry, buy the issue. you’ll learn something. 



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