Can your title, “Everything is Sweetened
by Defiance,” be read as a kind of commentary on the art of
poetry-making itself? Does the resistance offered by the blank page
“sweeten” the writing process?
Definitely. I was also thinking of
literary defiance in terms of writing outside the normative mode of
contemporary poetry or, as a poet, writing poems that are in no way
similar to one's previous series or project. Is the blank page
conquerable in that way? I’m not so sure. When I confront a blank page,
I never have a game plan aside from drink too much coffee then type or
scribble or compose via smartphone.
Something about the way your poem ends,
with the speaker “chewing two sticks / of cinnamon Dentyne” has us
thinking about explosions. We’re set up to expect “dynamite” to be
attached to the “two sticks” that the speaker’s chewing. Instead, the
transformation takes place via Dentyne, a far stickier substance, which
turns the speaker into his / her “father.” Does truth come to us in
bright, sparking epiphanies (dynamite), or through a slower unfolding
(Dentyne)? Maybe we’re really asking: can you ever outrun your past?
That should be Dentyne’s next ad campaign.
Like in other poems from this series, the enjambments often conjure two
potential directions at the same time. The way truth processes us is
subject to change. I wrote the poem contemplating how the ultimate
defiance is to embrace that which you rebelled against in the past. You
defy the younger iteration of yourself, and it's so gloriously
conflicted and full of melodramatic betrayal! On a personal level, this
poem gestures at the acceptance of that old cliché that many have
reservations about “becoming their parent,” where I believe certain
aspects of their personalities are inevitably transferred. When one
notices those similarities (in personality or lifestyle preference or
whatever), then it’s difficult to draw comparisons. To answer the
question, truth comes in both forms. I may have sudden realizations or
truths (similar to how my brain jumpstarts the writing process) or an
accumulation of smaller realizations will build into one, unavoidable
truth. Both variations can “stick” if you let them. Or you can
circumvent truth by being outside its blast radius.