Regression is the passéisme of the individual. Active nostalgia--maybe a kinder way of saying regression--is what fuels poetry. The corpus of any poem is littered by observations, memories, synesthesias, bits of conversation or language that have stuck. In the workshop, we would call these things images. Poetic creativity has nothing to do with creation, the spontaneous generation of language, but is really re-creation. It is the past, dressed up to be made presentable, enjoyable, cathartic, ruinous.
Perhaps this is a new phenomenon, with an origin in confessional poetry. The poet of today is obsessed with herself, even if this is not apparent from her work. Those images have to come from somewhere. We are no longer content, as readers, to deal with grand symbols, the metaphors of society, or historical tropes. This bores us. We want something shocking, moving, obliterating. At least we want cleverness.
This creates a bit of a problem for me in Moncton. I've written tons since I've been here, but nothing that takes into account the Acadian diaspora. All I've written about is homeland. Furthermore, I am obsessed with my own regression. I love reliving all of my emotional extremes, being hurt and elated all over again. I glorify the excreta of memories. This is my own sentimental scatology.
My project so far swirls around the schema of place. I've written poems with a day number and a place name, such as "Day One: Chauvin." I've covered a lot of ground. The aim is to finish in Moncton, or perhaps Port Royal, the former city (it is no longer as such) of my ancestors. In these poems, I am addressing the cities as lovers, and in doing so personify them, metamorph them into the bruised memories of lovers I've had in those places. Being with a poet is indeed a bad thing, because your life is now on display. Or at least the small details of your life: your movie ticket stubs, your birthday gifts, your manner of speaking, your flaws and infallibilities.
With the exception of one poem called Chicago, I haven't left Southern Louisiana. As my regression takes a firmer and more fatal hold, I may never.