top of page
Back to Top - FICTION vs. FACT page

FICTION vs. FACT — a brief treatise




Strangely lost by a right instinct


we revise & hack


working to get it right—


bad blood, not words,


deceiving us from ourselves.




Ask eternal questions


& we get instead


the moon off an oil slick




for instance: extending behind the eyes.


We get a yellow crayon, mad,


300 miles ahead of the pain


& close to the truth.




Such are the visions of becoming,


shared among friends


in the shadow of a stone fireplace


when the light begins to fail.


Such are the desperate moves


of a guitar player whose fingers know emptiness


& what it means to play


from a room the size of a wound.




To solve the riddles of love & pain,


we live our lives in ashes, firebirds rising anew,


holding fast to the syntax of faith,


listening again to the words we break


like pieces of prayer.



Why Do We Write?


MARK TWAIN once said: "It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense."


THOMAS WOLFE once said: “Fiction is not fact. Fiction is fact selected and understood; fiction is fact arranged and charged with purpose.”


That statement presupposes that the events of one’s life (facts) are without rationale, that the experiences of life are largely meaningless until we determine some causal relationship between this event and that, until we make inferences about those events that allow us to explain, inferences that allow us not only to “select” but to “understand,” inferences that allow us to impose the necessary fiction on “fact” in order to glean some sense of meaning, in order to answer the question of “Why?”


In other words, not only is fiction more meaningful than fact, it is also our means to validate fact. It is our means to get at the truth.


And the same goes for poetry.

It's really not much more complicated than that . . .


. . . except to determine WHAT we write—and HOW.

bottom of page