Since Diane Wakoski believes that “the poems in her published books give all the important information about her life,” her life and her art are inextricably related. She states that the poem “must organically come out of the writer’s life,” that “all poems are letters,” so personal in fact that she has been considered, though she rejects the term, a confessional poet. While most readers have been taught to distinguish between the author and the “speaker” of the poem, Wakoski is, and is not, author and speaker. She refers to real people and to real events in her life in detail that some critics find too personal as she works through a problem: “A poem is a way of solving a problem.” For Wakoski, writing a poem is almost therapeutic; it is talking the problem out, not to a counselor or even to the reader, but to herself. She has said, “The purpose of the poem is to complete an act that can’t be completed in real life”—a statement that does suggest that there are both reality and the poem, which is then the “completed” dream. As a pragmatist, she has learned to live with these two worlds.
Wakoski believes that once a poet has something to say, he or she finds the appropriate form in which to express this content. In her case, the narrative, rather than the lyric, mode is appropriate; free verse, digression, repetition, and oral music are other aspects of that form. She carves out a territory narrowly confined to self and...
(The entire section is 4358 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Diane Wakoski Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!