A Masters in the Fine Arts is not a one-way ticket to an illustrious career path of lucrative success. No one is of the illusion that we write for the money. For most of us, we write because we have to. We have no other choice but to write. It is a pressing need.

Though I am not so deluded to think that what the world needs is another poem. There are more wonderful poems already existing than I could possibly read closely enough to truly absorb its contents. Yet it is through writing and reading that I understand the world. In Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s essay “On Poesy or Art” where he explores the underlying philosophy of his theory of organic form, he says,

The artist must imitate that which is within the thing, that which is active through form and figure, and discourses to us by symbols—the Natur-geist, or spirit of nature, as we unconsciously imitate those whom we love; for so only can he hope to produce any work truly natural in the object and truly human in the effect.

To be able to imitate something in the physical world, I need to first know its essence, its reality. Just as if I am to imitate a piece of writing I truly love, as we sometimes do as a writing exercise, I would need to know the essence of the work that I could imitate it while using completely different language. A poem then becomes an investigation into being itself. It takes in the essence, or pattern, or overarching order, of what the poem is discussing. The poem becomes no longer a representation of an experience, but becomes an experience itself, and the only way to access that experience. In doing so, like in imitating a loved one, I take into myself that part being that the poem is imitating. I must bare in myself the world that I am trying to participate in.

It is through writing that I pursue reality. If I want my life to be as real and as substantive as the world that I am living in, than I must ardently pursue it. That is the gift of writing to my own life. If by producing another poem into the world I can make my life more real, than it is worth it. And if by that poem another person’s life also becomes more real, than doubly so.

Luke Eldredge | luke.eldredge@colostate.edu