Why I write

When young I explored along with the Ancients the existentialists — Kierkegaard, Marcel, Sartre, Camus, Heidegger—- before I chose to study literature in graduate school. The war between say Marcel and Heidegger was not one in which I could fight; I didn’t know enough. I had a reaction to reading Heidegger that manifested itself in itching my arms—- a skin rash. On the other hand, I held Camus’ REBEL close.

But I knew enough to know that I felt more myself when reading poetry than contemporary philosophy. That ‘self’ revealed in the process of reading poetry mindfully is still something that fascinates me. It’s why I write.

This ‘self’ turned out to be post-Romantic. A ‘self’ other to the buffered self (Taylor), akin to the Unconscious self of Zen. Reading Shakespeare or Dickinson or Hopkins or Oswald can be harrowing, but from the perplexity form emerges, and this emergence, poem by poem, connects the reader with a creative fluidity that underwrites the plurivocity of creation. And the many distinct voices of creation is the truth, it seems to me, of poetry.

Author: Tom D'Evelyn

Tom D'Evelyn is a private editor and writing tutor in Cranston RI and, thanks to the web, across the US and in the UK. He can be reached at tom.develyn@comcast.net. D'Evelyn has a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley. Before retiring he held positions at The Christian Science Monitor, Harvard University Press, Boston University and Brown University. He ran a literary agency for ten years, publishing books by Leonard Nathan and Arthur Quinn, among others. Before moving to Portland OR he was managing editor at Single Island Press, Portsmouth NH. He blogs at http://tdevelyn.com and other sites.

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