Me Between the Lines, Part 3

I find inspiration for my poetry everywhere in my life, much as Murray discusses in his article “All Writing is Autobiography.” Murray calls becoming “what we write…one of the great magics of writing” (71). My poem, “Call me Thisbe,” was inspired by a story from Ovid which I read during my Myth as Literature class taught by Dr. Baker:

Call me Thisbe

I dream in metaphors and similes
Of a time when we could still meet in limbo
And dance until tomorrow never came
Like two swans caught on the water
Or two butterflies lost in the breeze

His lips were fire and ice
As he falls off the edge of a flat earth
And disappears into the abyss of fantasy
Taking away all life’s possibilities
But part of me always knew the price

Ovid’s text and Dr. Baker’s Myth as Lit class were not my first exposure to the tale of Pyramus and Thisbe. This Greek tale is in many of Shakespeare’s works, from serving as inspiration (probably, at least I think so) in Romeo and Juliet to being a play within a play in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Shakespeare’s writing has always been something I’ve enjoyed and have had no problem interpreting. I’ve written papers about Shakespeare from high school to my first college experience at Fullerton College and am still currently working on a Shakespeare Pedagogy project for the McNair scholars under the mentorship of Dr. Rocklin.

All of my experience with Shakespeare’s work and my new experience, at the time, with the original tale of Pyramus and Thisbe from Ovid came together when I was writing this poem. I’ve played with the title multiple times and have changed it from “Call me Thisbe” to “The Lament of Juliet.” The two women, in my opinion, are one in the same, so either title works with this piece.

I have also worked as a writing tutor at Fullerton College for almost three years now, and my involvement with student writing and grammar is used within this poem as well. I purposefully made incorrect use of verb tense to create a feeling of tension within the lines of the poem to make the reader (hopefully) realize that while there is a present and past in the poem in the form of tense, there is no future. If I didn’t have the life experience as a writing tutor, I do not believe I would have had the idea to play with verb tense as a symbol within my poem.

My scholarly interests and work experience influenced how my autobiography came out in this work. While the content is less personal and therapeutic than my other poems, I am still present within the work through my diction, playful verb tense and subject knowledge.

In addition to putting myself into this poem, the poem has also become part of my present experiences through learning about the subject matter, writing it and revising it. The tale of Pyramus and Thisbe did not include Thisbe’s desires or doubts about her relationship with Pyramus. Her thoughts in the poem are thoughts I have given to her through my interpretation of what she should be feeling during the moment she realizes her love is dead. Murray writes that, “We make up our own history, our own legends, our own knowledge by writing our autobiography” (73) and, in this poem, I have created my own history of Thisbe. All of my work is now my history, my legend, and part of my knowledge. I am in every word and between every line of my poems because they are more than just poetry. My poems are my autobiography.

As I finish writing this blog series, it too now has become part of my experience of the world and has found itself part of my autobiography. The realizations I have made here about my own poetry are locked into my being and will be a conscious or unconscious part of my writing process when I write not just poetry, but anything. I agree with Murray’s idea that “All Writing is Autobiographic,” and, when I reflect on my body of work, can see where I have hidden myself in everything I have written.

I am between every line on the page with my sloppy handwriting and my finger prints are on more than just the keys I use to type with when I write on the computer. When we write we recreate our life experiences on the page or create new experiences to become part of our autobiography through the process of creation. I now understand that my posts contain more than just my ideas or my voice as a writer; my posts contain my life story and are the avenue through which I express my tale.

Read part 1 and part 2 of this piece if you’ve missed it.
– Amanda Riggle


  1. Pingback: Throwback Thursday: Me Between the Lines, Part 1 | The Poetics Project

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