Stephen Fuller *** Poetry, Essays

Into My Own — My Story as a Poet, Preface

What is the “Into My Own” series of essays? Why go back in time to revisit my juvenile poetry? In its infancy, the original “Into My Own” essay explored poetry I wrote as a young man in order to gain better appreciation for those words, to examine why they were written, and learn something about the young man who wrote them. This process resembles Sharon Van Etten’s song “Seventeen” that creates a dialog between her present and younger self, two human beings separated by time and experience, inhabiting the same story.

This discussion between the current self and the old can be both informative and transformative. In “Seventeen,” an adult Van Etten sings/shouts to her younger self in one of the most effective emotional moments in 2019 pop music – “I know what you’re gonna be/ I know that you’re gonna be/ You’ll crumble it up just to see/ afraid that you’ll be just like me.” In my instance, the youthful poet speaks to the older man, “I know what you’ve become/ I know that you’ve become/ You’ve crumbled it up what you see/ Afraid you’ve become nothing like me.”

Looking back at one’s juvenile poetry gives the poet a chance to hear the echoes of his voice through time, to hear not only how that voice has changed, but also how it has not changed and to understand why. This also process may also help aspiring writers see how youthful inspiration can be drawn from music, poetry, nature, and friendship, naïve though it may all be.

However, there is another, equally interesting discussion to be had between the current self and the old. Van Etten sings as the adult self to the younger in one of the most effective emotional moments in 2019 pop music – “I know what you’re gonna be/ I know that you’re gonna be/ You’ll crumble it up just to see/ afraid that you’ll be just like me.” In my instance, the younger is speaking to the older, “I know what you’ve become/ I know that you’ve become/ You’ve crumbled it up what you see/ Afraid you’ve become nothing like me.”

Through this series of essays, I am giving the young boy a forum to talk back to the adult: what will he say? The Into My Own series affords me a chance to open up to the youth I was to allow him to instruct the man I am becoming; to give him a chance to get mad at me and some of my choices; to reconnect me with my juvenile ideas and dreams; to learn how to be a better adult for this child and choose a non-dualistic life of stillness and hope.

Through recasting my Sailor Poet era work as three books about a man who sees he is failing, failing, and the journey of healing; revisiting more recent work and in order to analyze their meaning then craft and rewrite them to better communicate that meaning I believe I will be able to triangulate on the human this poet wants to be. Lessons of the past sitting beside the dreams of a child in order save a razed life and forging from the fire of hurts inflicted and felt an honorable and noble life.

I hope you enjoy this journey with me.

(C) S Francis Fuller 2019
Image: Leonid Pasternak’s 19th century painting “The Throes of Creation” (WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

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