Muse or Character?

By: Susan J. Atkinson

I graft words

wondering which

will grow flesh on a bone

that gleams

                        white in the paleness

                        of morning

Sometimes a muse appears quite unexpectedly, blows in from faraway and long ago and sometimes a muse arrives, on the doorstep, from just down the road.

The muse, a gift to the poet can bring more than inspiration, they can bring baggage. Perhaps a suitcase, a backpack or even a small purse, that when unpacked smolders deeper than symbol and theme and allows inspiration to become embodiment. It is in these moments that muse becomes character.

A muse inspires a poem, a character is the poem. All those little bits packed in their bag infuse themselves between the lines, become a life, become who a character is, rather than what they represent.

The muse transforms from hushed metaphors and images into skin and bones, breathing beauty, sorrow, anguish, delight, temptation, lust, loss, and longing that can linger and build into multiple layers. All of which lends itself to poetry. A life rife with emotion, from either end of the pendulum, as long as it is poignant enough to write about makes a great bedfellow for poetry.

What I loved most about VERSeFest 2020 is how strangely intimate the readings felt. It was as if each poet was giving a private reading. And, the added bonus, the Festival was recorded so it can be watched and enjoyed all over again!

Muse or Character was originally published as a micro-essay in ARC Magazine’s monthly newsletter –