There was a time when I thought I could write poetry. Or maybe it was a time when I wanted to be able to write poetry. I’ve long since given up on it, and embrace the notion that I enjoy–and am pretty good at–constructing paragraphs. I prefer to see the words run to the edges of the page, wrap around and continue on the next line. It’s also true that I don’t like thinking about line breaks or rhythm or meter or any of that.
I’m taking advantage of my vacation time this week and am rummaging through all kinds of stuff that’s been sitting in my closets. Yesterday I found a cd labeled “dump disc from tower.” I burned this disc several years ago when I traded in my desktop computer for a laptop, and I haven’t looked at many of the files since then.
Anyway, I found some poems I wrote in a class I took during my undergrad years. This particular one cracks me up for some reason. I think, more than anything, it cracks me up because when I wrote it I thought it was brilliant.
It makes no difference
what brought you here —
tired feet or equipage.
Come join me at my desk.
Mull around, mingle. Dance
all over my page.
Lie down with an innuendo.
Imbibe yourself with accent liquor.
Blend in with new meaning.
Revolve around one another until you’re
dizzy and indecipherable.
And just when it seems that the party is over,the blackbird comes to pick you apart
You’re not mistaken –
You’re just a word.
I look at it now and I see that it makes no damn sense whatsoever. In a couple places it sounds like I was writing about making a smoothie.
This was a poetry experiment that was assigned in a class I was taking. I can’t remember what the assignment was, exactly. What I do remember is that my instructor gave me a decent grade on it, and for that I felt as though I was qualified to write mediocre poetry.
Later, my instructor for this class would write a recommendation letter for me for my grad school applications. I don’t know if it did any good, but I did get in to three of the five creative writing programs I applied to. At OSU I would write more experiments (mostly prose) and would cobble some of them into short stories, most of which I had to turn in to instructors, many of which were read by my peers. Just as I did with the poem above, I let my audience gauge my success as a writer. And eventually it began to seem as though they knew more about my writing than I did. When they said a piece was good, I felt good. When they told me it sucked, I felt like a failure.
Now I am writing alone and am struggling to remind myself that it’s okay to not have an audience, that it’s okay to just put words on page and not think about whether or not they will become stories or parts of stories. But it’s difficult.
So I’m considering seeking out a writing group again. Those I’ve been a part of in the past have led to some pretty miserable experiences. I’m not sure what direction to take myself. I only know that feel successful, I need more motivation, more discipline and some way to share my writing with others.I also need to stop reading my old poems.