Forefront Essay

I recently had the opportunity to write an essay for my friends over at Forefront, a (mostly) local network of artists of all varieties who are committed to strengthening the Christian presence in the arts. Their blog is a unique space dedicated to discussing how to realize that vision, and also serves as a forum for refining their ideas about the craft of producing excellent art.

In the essay (which can be found in its entirety here) I address the ways that experiences lived in the world shape the process of writing poetry:

Once one has wandered long enough through Portland with Longfellow—and subsequently back down “each well-known street” of their own younger years—a compelling question about the poetic process begins to take shape. Simply stated, what role does lived experience serve for the poet? To what degree are those experiences—the memory of them, their emotional imprint, their expansion of perspective and wisdom—integral to crafting poetry that is alive and dynamic? As it relates to the poem we have been examining so far, one can only wonder how utterly different “My Lost Youth” would have been if Longfellow had only visited there once as a boy; or better yet, had only read about in a book or overheard a description of in a conversation. Would it ever have taken shape at all?”

While I deal directly with the poetic process here, the concepts discussed obviously have broader implications for all creative and artistic endeavors.

Also, the Forefront team invited me on their podcast to dive a little deeper into this conversation. That episode can be found here. They posed some probing questions, and we were able to unpack the ideas a bit more in depth.

Overall, I greatly appreciate their mission, and am excited to see it playing out in my city. They are doing an important work, and I’m thankful to have joined their ongoing conversation.

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