Introduction: Tiel Aisha Ansari
This is me: writer of poetry and fiction, avid reader, general curmudgeon. I grew up with SF and fantasy and am an advocate for the use of imagination in all things, especially writing. “Write what you know” to me is much less productive advice than “Write what you can imagine.”
I’ve been blogging at Knocking From Inside for about six years, which is about how long I’ve been writing consistently. Six years ago is also when I converted to Sufism: the timing is not a coincidence. But don’t worry, I’m not here to talk religion. I’m here to encourage, urge, and demand, the honest and passionate use of language in speech and writing. What do we think it’s for, anyway?
As for the obligatory cv: I’ve had one collection of poetry published, have had pieces appear in several journals and anthologies, have been on the radio once here in Portland and have had a couple of poems read on the radio elsewhere; blah blah blah. No formal training in writing, creative or otherwise: I’m officially a neutral in the MFA/CW opinion wars.
Writing to me is about communication, but what we sometimes forget is that communication and expression aren’t the same. Communication implies not only that you express something, but that someone else receives the message. Yes, they will interpret it according to their understanding, perhaps differently from what you intended. That doesn’t excuse you as a writer from doing your best to get your meaning across.
The challenge of poetry, as compared to prose, is that it tends to proceed much less directly. Metaphor, symbolism and inference are the tools of poetry. A good poem leaves breathing space for plenty of “meaning,” without becoming hopelessly vague. A good poet accomplishes that some of the time.