Kathryn Stripling Byer
Kathryn Stripling Byer’s reading and talk affirms my understanding of how limitless our imaginations can be. She describes the psychic landscape of her own mind as the well-spring for her creativity. Her stance is firm yet inviting, soft black pumps pressing into the floor as she paces down the aisles to and fro, to and fro. Sometimes, as a line of poetry slips from her mouth, she waves her left arm in small circles at breast height, mimicking the rhythm of the words.
All of this, of course, makes me wonder about my own psychic landscapes and furthermore, what shape that landscape forms around the values I hold. My hunch is that a writer’s best work can spring forth when her psychic landscape compliments the physical landscape of which she writes.
“I’ve been listening to a voice that grows out of another woman’s voice,” Byer says. “It’s the equivalent of two landscapes crossing.” She runs her fingers through her mutton-blonde hair, spreading it away from her face. Her bright pink tapestry blouse shifts with the movement, catching the light from the bright fall sun.
Suddenly, the notion of persona poetry (ex. The Young Floridian poem from the 9/8 entry on this site) makes more sense. It’s not necessarily channeling. But it’s not fiction, either, because it comes from a real place – a crossing of two landscapes, one imagined and one blossomed inside the writer. Persona poetry is utterly exploratory and therefore limitless and on-the-spot creative. It is the mind letting go, trusting the process, the surrender of ego from inside one’s self.