Elizabeth Taylor

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Liz & Ego

Egotism is a literary vice -- the excessive use of the word I.

“I was writing really the damnedest trash,” says Francine du Plessix Gray. “It would always be put into the third person and it would always be a twenty-two-year-old actress sort of weeping at the altar. Really adolescent -- awful…nothing to do with my feelings. I would always exteriorize my feelings into a third person….So, [Charles Olson, the poet,] said, ‘Stop this shit… cry into it, weep into it, rant at it… but stop all this third person writing. Get to know what your real feelings are or your real emotions are.” (Martin Duberman: Black Mountain)

I never met Charles Olson or Francine du Plessix Gray, but I met John and Yoko. And I met W.H. Auden: “Remember that another poet’s work is not a pair of spectacles, but a key with which to unlock one’s nature and find its unsuspected treasures. Ask yourself constantly and remorselessly ‘What am I really interested in?’ ‘What do I know for myself?’ ‘What, in fact, are my experiences?’ And however boring or silly those experiences may seem at first sight, those and only those can be the subject of your poems. Make the fullest use you can of your own visual and emotional experiences.” (The New Yorker,1 April 1996).


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