On Saturday, my monthly poetry readers group discussed James Allen Hall's Now You're the Enemy (University of Arkansas Press, 2008). It proved to be one of the most lively discussions we've had in a long time as we analyzed Hall's craft and subject matter. All agreed that Hall's poetry is accomplished (and I don't say this simply because he is a fellow alumnus of Bennington College) though, for various reasons, some of us thought the subject matter to be more than a little uncomfortable.
Among the discussion topics resurrected was the fictional "I" vs. the autobiographical "I." For me, this brought to mind a panel at AWP a few years back where Liam Rector and Timothy Liu debated whether or not there even could be a fictional "I."
I have opened my own poetry readings by stating, "This work is fictionalized truth. I'll let you decide what is fiction and what is truth."
Ultimately, we did not settle firmly on which elements of Hall's narratives were completely true and we mostly agreed that it did not matter; the poems worked without having a black and white timeline in front of us.
To read more about Now You're the Enemy, check out the following site: http://howapoemhappens.blogspot.com/2010/05/james-allen-hall.html.