Professor and Poet Laureate Paisley Rekdal on Poetry’s Personal and Narrative Reach – The Daily Utah Chronicle

Paisley Rekdal, Poet Laureate of Utah. (Courtesy of: Austen Diamond Photography)

The medium of poetics can be a vehicle of catharsis or a personal touchstone. Whatever connections it is able to form, poetry is a force that shapes both a poet and his audience. I had the opportunity to speak with Utah Poet Laureate and University of Utah Professor Paisley Rekdal about her thoughts on the role catharsis plays in her own poetic works.

Poetic opinions

“I don’t see my work as a means to achieve catharsis: I see it as art,” Rekdal said. “It’s just a personal touchstone for me in that when a poem ‘works’ it reveals something I believe or think about the world that I could not have articulated otherwise than at through the writing of this particular poem. But the poem itself cures nothing.

Although Rekdal does not view her own poetry as a means of catharsis, she acknowledged that poets often connect with poetry in this way. “Writing is an art that often manipulates language, time [and] narrative in a way that serves the poem but rarely achieves any sort of personal catharsis for the poet: that’s why we tend to write about the same topics over and over again, just in different forms,” ​​she said. declared.

“We’re trying to find the narrative that will heal what, at its core, probably can’t be healed,” Rekdal said of the scope of the narrative work. “It’s not a failure of poetry, just a reality of the limits of storytelling. But the poems aren’t just for the poets who write them: they’re for an audience who will read and interpret those poems outside of the author’s own desires.

Personal connections

Poetry is a powerful tool that goes beyond the poet – open to interpretation. Readers breathe new life into a work of poetry and extend it beyond its original intent, to which Rekdal said, “People have powerful reactions to poems, and that’s probably because the form itself feels so personal. A poem often gives the impression that a person is revealing their innermost thoughts: it is hard not to be drawn to this, to feel that the poem or the poet is speaking directly to you, even if the poem was actually composed for everyone and no one. simultaneously. »

However poetry is used, it can serve as an outlet for readers and can help poets themselves discover new emotional significance through writing. Rekdal also suggests that there are no “universal” poets who connect with readers or provide catharsis. Poetry is an individualized art form and what resonates with one reader may not resonate with another, or may resonate with them for entirely different reasons.

The idea of ​​poetry as catharsis or personal touchstone is compelling. It is undeniable that poetry forms bonds with poets and readers. Personal relationships are an important part of what makes poetry such an expressive art form.

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