October 31st. All Hallow’s Eve. Halloween. Sawhain. Whatever you want to call it; it feels like a passing–a closure–to me. When I was working, I liked closure. Closure was getting a file off my desk, a claimant off the phone, a chance to get in the car and go home. But with writing, closure is tricky. I find with fiction and non-fiction the ending, the closure feels organic. But my main staple–my poetry–seems to have trouble finding an ending quite often.
Why is that? Is it because I am already thinking about tomorrow being November 1st and how that is the start of a new month? Tomorrow I will weigh and measure myself to see if I have made any progress in the last 30 days. Tomorrow I will start NaNoWriMo. Tomorrow I’ll pick my poems for the November 15th workshop submission. Tomorrow I’ll even start books for two of the January seminars, one of which I will be writing a paper on. Tomorrow is a firsts and beginnings. Beginning something is fresh, just enough of newness to be intriguing but not fearful. But closure?
Closure of a poem for me tends to fall into what I am terming lately “The Sonnet Fallacy.” Sonnets build up to a turn and then a nice couplet to wrap it all up. That is what I tend to do with my poetry. And incidentally, that is a tendency of American cinema as well–we want a nice tidy bow. As my workshop leader put it–It’s like learning to tell a good joke.
But wouldn’t it be boring if that was always the closure? **SPOILER** What if in the “Full Monty” they actually got to go through with the striptease? Would it be the same movie? Would it still resonate for us? Or what if Lee Smith’s “Black Mountain Breakdown” had its main character arise from her “coma” and live the expected life of a girl of her generation? Would we have been happy with that?
Question after question. I’m fighting with this and will be focusing on why I feel narrative and a closed endings are what a poem should be. My challenge for November will be to find the essense of my poem, let it speak even if its ending has the hero shot.