BUT THE THING IS that the idea that people should just somehow absorb or take in poetry from the past - the western canon, basically - in order to become writers…
i honestly feel that white men don’t understand how painful it is to read poetry from the past. and poetry that’s written now. the dominant form of english language poetry is the lyric, which is rooted in so much toxic bullshit. and i love sonnets and i love poetry and i love a lot of lyric poetry. but it is fucking painful to read it and to love it, and you can and should never just try and ABSORB tradition. like trying to “absorb” poison.
as i have said before and will say again:
the history of love poetry is a history of men trying to dominate women.
and tbh you can strike out “love” from that and it’s as true.
and i did an undergrad degree where i had to read and study poetry from every period up until now from when english became a written language basically, and i SEE THE VALUE IN IT. like, truly. i am glad i did that degree, even if i think there were a lot of other problems with it. i’m glad that i was made to struggle through the pearl manuscript and that i had to read all of don juan and all of troilus and criseyde, and i’m even glad that i had to read alexander pope. and i struggled and tried to read women where i could, and i’m glad i read and wrote about margaret cavendish and katherine phillips and medbh mcguckian. but i did not ABSORB anything.
and most of the time, reading all this old poetry was being like a spy in the house of the enemy.