This week we’ll be experimenting with poems of invocation; that is, poems that employ direct address to construct and position a “You.” When thinking of the “addressee” of a poem, we are often tempted to think simply of audience. In the poem of invocation, however, “You” is a much more active presence in the poem; it is actually called into being, by the poem. For example, by saying, “You come and stand before me,” one literally creates a “you” who materializes through the mechanism of the direct address, comes before the speaker, and stands—at least, in the world of the poem.
To view poetry in this light transforms the art of versifying into a kind of conjurer’s art, which is what happens every time we write: we conjure people, places, events, and affective states, some of which are “real,” and some of which are purely imagined. It also grants the poet the power of creation.