Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Second Person

Haven't updated for a while, obviously. I recently began my MFA program, though, so I will have a lot to think and write about. When I am not busy.

I realized recently that I have been writing a fair amount of stuff in the second person. That was an assignment once, in an undergraduate poetry class. We explored some of the things that a second-person point of view gives you. Uh, the poem. Reader. Whatever.

Firstly, an "I" as a narrator is potentially unreliable. Why are they speaking to us, what do they have to hide? Plus the whole personal/confessional poetry thing is done quite often enough, and even if the 1st person narrator != the author, that's the expectation readers may come into the poem with. I'm really not much into the personal confessional sort of thing myself. I'm more interested in the external than the internal, maybe. (Even when the external is an embodiment of the internal, or vice versa.) I'm more interested in birds than I am in some stranger's emotions.

Secondly, with "you," the reader is immediately placed in an intimate position: they're being asked or invited (commanded maybe?) to represent a certain perspective, to experience it perhaps. "You do this," you are told, "You are like this." You are put into the position of that person.

Third, it can establish a relationship between the author and the reader; it is as though the author is addressing the reader. So long as this is not didactic, this may give a refreshing sense of involvement. It's a "giving," in a way, to the reader. You ask or require that "they" be included. Because it's a lot to ask, really, to write all about yourself and expect perfect strangers to really care.

Fourth, in my experience... this is not a case of putting the reader in the subject's place. It is about speaking for and to a subject directly, a subject who is not the reader. The conversation, then, is between myself (the author) and the subject; the reader may look on at our communication.

Er, I could go on about this but I really want to keep going with the 2nd person thing as I think it's potentially very rich. :)

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