Monday, November 13, 2006

Diamond Lies

Poetry Thursday's idea this week: "Write down 10 objects, then construct a lie about each...The point: to help flex your creative muscles. Creative writing is all about lying."

I'm a little disturbed to see fiction referred to as "lying". I've written at length here about the importance of fiction and imagination to art in general and poetry in particular-- and also about the dangers of conflating fiction with lying. Let me mention one point here:

The difference between fiction and lying is that fiction rests on an agreement between author/poet and audience. What I am about to tell you is not factually true: however, it is entertaining, or instructive, or illustrates some point I'm trying to make.

Fiction is not intended to deceive. Lying is. We lose sight of that difference at our peril.

More about fiction at

What's that?-- oh, yes-- this valuable ring
has been in my family for many, many years,
given to Granddad by a grateful King
for saving his son from Cetsewayo's spears--

No, I forget-- that was another stone.
This one was buried in some ancient tomb.
Great-grandpa found it, under vengeful bones
whose curses shriveled Grandma in the womb--

No, no-- this ring-- what ring? My hand is bare.
Only the finger shows the faint mark of a band.
Unnoticed now, I sit alone and stare
at my unstoried, ringless, empty hands.

No ring. No hand. No story to deceive you.
What use to lie, if no-one will believe you?

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