Thursday, February 25, 2010

Turning to the Dark Side

A few weeks ago, my thesis advisor Marty sat me down. He said something along the lines of "You're a very pleasant person, but in order for these poems to get really great, you're going to have to go somewhere dark".

I guess I've always written about dark things, but especially since I've begun to work on my MFA. Some of that might be natural, because of what's been going on in my personal life (adjusting to life in Middle Georgia, the unexpected death of my uncle, etc.), but really I am the happiest I've ever been. And the idea that I can't just be dark, but I need to take it even darker..into that uncomfortable, horrifying place that no one really wants to go to... was advice that I think I needed to hear, but I never expected to hear.

Has anyone else gotten this unexpected but needed advice? Are there any other dark souls out there? ;)


  1. That's damn good advice. I think any time something that we consider uncomfortable can be handled well, or even made beautiful, art is doing what its supposed to.

    Larry Levis comes to mind, in particular, for good dark and violent poetry.

    So, how dark are you going?

  2. I'm feeling this too Rachel. I don't know if it's a darker place that I need to get to, but I definitely feel like it's time to dig deeper and it's scary. I don't like to feel vulnerable in workshop, but I think I'm going to have to force myself to go there soon.

  3. i was taken aback when the same thing was said to me during my first one-on-one conference because i felt i was digging in and writing on some tough topics. guess they wanted me to go even darker!

  4. Going deeper and darker has always strengthened my work. Dive in!

  5. Yup, I pretty much stay on the dark side. It's tough but often worth it to go there.

  6. I've been told, "you need to get angry." Which, ironically enough, angered me at the time. But, now I can see how that is good advice - to dig deeper to some real emotion, to something that isn't well-behaved, but that makes the reader and author uncomfortable.


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