Praying for Faith: Prayer as a Metaphor for Writing

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In Andrew Hudgins’ poem, Praying Drunk, the speaker portrays the act of writing as something important, mysterious, and difficult when sober, and compares it to the act of praying, which, for him, is equally complicated. The entire poem is in the form of a prayer, which provides an insightful look at the motivations for faith, the pursuit of truth, and the struggle to come to terms with both. When these ideas are applied to the act of writing, they reveal the complex struggle that a writer faces in developing confidence in his own ideas, while maintaining a degree of credibility that will encourage an audience to care about what he has written. The poem begins with the speaker addressing God as “Our Father who art in heaven” (1.1). If this prayer is a metaphor for writing, it would seem that the he is actually speaking to the audience, the group of people who will ultimately judge his writing and his ideas. The casual nature of the prayer is partly based on the fact that the speaker is admittedly drunk on red wine, but also because the writer is trying to establish a relationship with his audience: A rapport with his readers is important to a writer’s success. He thanks his readers for the red wine, because it is they who have made it possible for him to maintain a lifestyle wherein he can afford the wine, and this wine acts as the liquid courage he needs to write in the first place. The speaker in this poem claims that praying follows a “simple form,” because it “keeps things in order” (1.7-8). This can also be said about writing; at least the kind of writing that follows a prescribed formula, such as, the sonnet or the five-paragraph essay. Writers often use these structures, because the methods are established an... ... middle of paper ... ...use he would be taking no risks. Even with his prayer, and his wine-induced courage, the speaker still despairs. He compares himself to “the poor jerk who wanders out on air and then looks down” and “below his feet, he sees eternity,” when he realizes that “suddenly his shoes no longer work on nothingness” (5.12-15). It is as though he is submitting to the reality that, if he steps beyond the safe borders of the proven approaches to writing, there is no magic potion that will guarantee his success. Nevertheless, he appears to be willing to take his chances, and, ironically, he does so with this prayer, which is stylistically unconventional. In a desperate attempt to remind his readers that he was once considered a good writer in the event that this poem does not meet their traditional standards, he makes one final request: “As I fall past, remember me” (5.16).
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