I'm starting a new movement in American poetry. I'm calling it potentially "neo-confessionalism" or "professive poetry." Who's with me?
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At AWP last year, I heard over and over again about what a demonized term "Confessional" poetry was. In fact, I attended the panel on which Aimee Nezhukumatathil sat with Duhamel & Addonizio which spent a long time discussing how reductionist this term was now as it applied to contemporary women's poetry, and I agreed with the boxing effect, especially when this term is dismissively applied by WHeMaCs (pronounced "WEE-max"—white hetero male critics).
But as someone who feels he writes in a mode owing a debt to Confessional poets, I wonder: is it time to reclaim?
Lynn Emanuel told me once that in Then, Suddenly—, the reader was confronted with Lynn Emanuel within the poems—but not just one Lynn Emanuel; it was "a carnival of Lynn Emanuels." This notion of the mutable self applies to what the new movement will achieve. We are all multiple people, multitudes of voices (see also Walt Whitman).
So, to manifestoize, I perceive this new movement to shake off the negative aspects of "Confessionalism"—including revalorizing that term, divorcing it from notions of SIN and GUILT, which I feel are its major short comings: when do people ever confess to something positive? NEVER. Instead of confessing the self, we profess the self! We enrapture the self in a multitude of selves, multitudes of moments!
I'm writing in part because some of the titles Eduardo C. Corral came up with for his ms. involve these types of impulses: "All About Me," for example.
Professive poetry is not poetry about a life, but of a life. It might be lying. It might want to go to bed with you, it might not. Maybe it feels like a light dinner of salad with vinaigrette; maybe it will order out for pizza. You just don't know. But truthful or not, professive poetry is honest of the self: capturing the selves in their reconstructed habitats, cared for and fed by trained professionals.
Do you profess?
Does your mother know?