It Might Just be the “Lure and the Blur”

Last Sunday, after seeking my first cup of coffee, I peered out the window hoping to see the brilliant blue wrapper of the New York Times laying in the driveway.  After rescuing it in down-coat-pulled-over-pajamas, I curled up in my comfy chair, sipping coffee and began reading.  It is the Book Review I first devour and last Sunday was no exception.  Like most readers of the review, I skim and read, stopping occasionally to pull out my phone and add titles to book lists I keep.

It is not, however, the new book titles I am itching to purchase that have crept in and out of my thoughts all week.  It is the Bookends article (appearing on the last page of the review) which remains in my mind.  In last week’s Bookends section, Leslie Jamison responded to the question “What accounts for our current – or recurrent – fascination with memoir-novels?

“There’s an electric charge in toggling back and forth between the shimmer of what’s been artfully constructed and the glint of what actually was.  The reader is impressed by the panoramic architecture even as she forgets its presence.

This ambiguous territory has a more established place in poetry, a genre never filed into separate “fiction” and “non-fiction” areas on the shelves. But for narrative we’ve long been obsessed with partitioning the actual from the imagined, and the memoir-novel offers, finally, some relief from that Sisyphean taxonomy project.  [David] Shields describes the pleasure of ‘blurring (to the point of invisibility)…any distinction between fiction and nonfiction: the lure and blur of the real.’”


I began thinking about some of my third and fourth graders’ recent poetry. I wished I had their notebooks at home with me so I could pour over them to notice where each truth blends with imagination. It may be why adults as well as children appreciate the perfect metaphor.

While Jamison comments on the appeal of the memoir, I believe this “pleasure of blurring” is also present in a child’s poetry writing. There is really no other time in a child’s school day when it is okay to “blur.”  When children are offered the opportunity to write poetry, they know there is no “right” topic or “right” way to to answer.  Instead there are many ways to approach a topic.  We permit poets to tell the “truth” as they experience it, to blur their personal worlds with concrete knowledge.  Maybe that is the “lure.”

About kdoele

I am a teacher who continues to learn from students kindergarten through seventh grade. Currently teaching seventh grade English and Reading/Writing Workshop, I am exploring what it is like to "begin" again... my one little word for 2017.
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5 Responses to It Might Just be the “Lure and the Blur”

  1. Irene Latham says:

    Kim, I love this post. The lure and the blur. Exactly! Many do assume poetry is Truth… I wrote a poem about a mother’s death, and whenever I read it at a reading, someone comes up and offers condolences on my mother’s passing. I get to tell them that actually she’s probably puttering in her north Florida rose garden right this minute. Happy New Year to you, and thank you for this!

    • kdoele says:

      I wish I could attend one of your readings Irene! I’m really hooked on this blur idea. Makes me excited to get back to school and to write with my kids!

  2. amyludwigvanderwater says:

    Yes! I most love writing when I feel that crossover…from real to not real – therein lies the magic of discovery for reader and writer too. I thank you too, and I’m copying this quote!

  3. dorireads says:

    You are so right! I love that blur, too. What a wonderful way to view poetry written by children…the one time in their day that it’s permissible to blur the facts.

  4. maryleehahn says:

    I think the blur is the lure for more than just child-poets!

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