I identify as neither poet, essayist, novelist, dramatist nor fiction writer, though I practice to varying degrees in all these genres. I prefer to refer to myself as simply a writer. In doing so I don’t intend to cast judgment on writers who do identify more specifically. It’s true that I don’t like stereotypes, which abound in even this area, and it’s true that I’m anxious about being typecast and having my future planned for me, but the main reason for my aversion to identifying along generic lines is that the very concept of discrete genres doesn’t feel right to me.
I believe the distinction between genres is one of infinite gradation, on a spectrum of communicative coherence, with ossified orthodoxy at one extreme and utter anarchy at the other. And in between proliferate the diversity of forms, each genre occupying a range of more or less coherence, or discursiveness, along that spectrum, with lyric poetry occupying a place closer to anarchy (or “entropy” or “freedom,” which sounds nicer), and murder mysteries closer to orthodoxy (or “order”). I feel that, fundamentally, there is nothing else that significantly separates them. Even the attention to language that is sometimes considered a distinguishing characteristic in some genres, such as poetry, can be considered just another way to push away from conventional linguistic and logical coherence, moving the mind further from order toward individual freedom.
Again, I don’t denigrate either direction on the spectrum. As far as I’m concerned, they’re essentially forces of nature made manifest in us, so to rail against one would be like yelling at the wind. What I like to do is roam the spectrum, bringing unlikely genres, modes, and forms into contact with one another, to see what kind of reactions result, and to search for sweet spots along the spectrum that haven’t been thoroughly explored already. I realize, as I’m writing this, that I’m using metaphors of scientific discovery to describe what I like doing. Is that bad? Am I subject to adolescent fantasies? Am I questioning the wind?