Monday, April 2, 2012

Who Am I?

So it's National Poetry Month, and I keep getting emails about all the events happening. One is the writing challenge, NAPO, to write a poem a day from prompts. If only I could write that fast. Another from Poets and Writers--is to build a better platform for marketing oneself. I am so unskilled at marketing that I can only stare at the first day's prompt: to define who I am. And now it's day 2 and I am still stuck on day 1.

I love the question, but the answers are always so unsatisfactory.

After years of philosophy and religion classes, I still have no clue . . . Two answers come to mind. One from Socrates (but of course):

I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.

And there from Bonhoeffer, whose works I loved, back when I read theology enthusiastically. I am reminded of his famous poem, "Who Am I?" The last stanza:

Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today, and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
and before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, thou knowest, O God, I am thine.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer from his cell in Berlin as the last days of his life and the last days of World War II ran out together.
As quoted in The Call by Os Guinness, p25.


ACravan said...

This would actually make a pretty good self-definition/marketing exercise for National Poetry Month, one that's articulate, seems (and I'm sure is) sincere and deeply felt, and informs the reader and leaves him/her wanting more. But of course, as short as it is, it probably has too many words and it doesn't seem "app compatible," which I suspect is what the doctors are ordering. So I suppose you find yourself stuck. I have no idea how poets might market themselves in a way that wouldn't seem false and duplicitous. The only sort-of exception I can think of was that time a long time ago when Kenneth Koch and Ron Padgett developed that student poetry writing in the schools program in New York (I forget the name of the anthology they published), which I think was appropriate and effective (but I assume unintentional) self-promotion/marketing. Oh -- I posted a Welsh rabbit for you in a responsive blog comment yesterday. I hope you like it. Curtis

Meg Johnson said...

Thank you so much for visiting our NEOMFA class on Saturday! -Meg Johnson

Nin Andrews said...

Thank you Meg! And why can't I comment on your blog?

Yes, I know those Koch and Padget books and I liked them a lot. I do think some poets are natural self-marketers. Others, like me, not so much.

And thank you for the recipes!