Old Moon

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Who is Your Muse?

Recently I read one writer's views on muses. Her contention is that love and longing make poor muses because something as tough and enduring as art can't arise from anything as fragile and fleeting as love. I think I beg to differ. It's hard to imagine (at least for me) anything more stimulating to the metaphorical impulse than loss. And loss is as great as its opposite: love.

The way human beings deal with loss has been an ongoing theme in my writing since I began trying to put ideas on paper. My first published short story was about loss, so was my third. It is the stimulus for the poetry I try to produce now.

If there is an artistic problem with this it is probably the danger of bathos. When I read some contemporary poets, and the best prose, however, it becomes clear that a good many fine writers know how to escape that snare. I need not refer to the Victorians or the 17th Century greats--there are so many who have taken off from the emotional fall into bereavement--from persons or ideals or places, especially from innocence--to produce iconic works of art. Even the contemplation of losses still to come have been spurs to send out a writer's talent at full gallop.

I might as well admit that I'm disagreeing with one of the best writers in English: Francine Prose. I would like very much to hear what you think!

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