Back to Poetry

A few days ago I went into Barnes and Noble. (We still have one here for the time being…) I had some money left on a gift card, so I bought the most plain looking, utilitarian blank journal ever. I haven’t owned one of these in a while, because over the years I have used them almost exclusively for writing poetry.

I type almost everything, as writing freehand tends to be uncomfortable for me after a short period of time. But I always wrote-out poetry. In pencil. There is something about poetry which seems to require the tactile experience of scratching graphite onto paper.

There was a time when I was nearly prolific in writing poetry. It was probably the only thing I wrote without consideration for future readers. I would still share the poems, as I think that’s kind of the point. I’d go to poetry readings in college, and post copies on my door sometimes. But in the end, composing a poem was about me. Trends were not considered. Styles were not studied. Once I initialed them, (a pretentious little thing I have always done at the end of a poem) I wouldn’t even edit them. I preferred to finish them in one sitting, as well.

Sometimes I would write form poetry, and sometimes free form it. I thought and still think great poetry can come from either style. But in general, I refused to follow any rules with poetry. My poems were a snapshot of the moment during which I felt compelled to write them.

Various aspects of life began to change, and I became quite cynical and bitter for a while. One can of course write cynical and bitter poetry. Once in a while I did. And once in a while I tried to write the kind of poems I did years before. But eventually, the well ran dry. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I shut the well down. I simply wasn’t moved to write poems anymore. So I stopped.

For years writing a poem, which had once been a weekly habit was reduced to  a rare sideshow. I’m not as bitter as I once was, but the desire to compose poems didn’t return. Before my recent Barnes and Noble purchase, I believe I had written four poems in five years.

Recently, I decided to get back into poetry, which is why I bought my first blank  journal in years. (Though this one is bigger than the others, and I like it more.) Last night I wrote several English haiku to break in the brand spanking new blank journal.

I have several reasons for returning to poetry.

Playing with language.

I intend to fill this journal mostly with specific poetry forms. As I mentioned, I played with forms before, but as I go forward in my writing career, I want to loosen my linguistic muscles, and I feel that confining my thoughts and feelings into a set template of rhyme and meter will be beneficial to my wordsmithing. Searching for a word that fits the pattern but also conveys the thought I’m looking for is a challenge I want to tackle.

I want to see what kind of poems I can produce now.

This very day, my friend Laura posted on her blog about how a person’s writing can grow up with them. Though her post isn’t about poetry per se, when I read it this morning it did ring true for me regarding my poetry experiment. Though some aspects of my thinking and feeling have in fact remained constant over the years, it would be dishonest to say I am the same man I was when I last wrote poetry on a regular basis. I want to see how the passage of time and the experiences of my life in the intervening times has affected my poetry. It may even reveal how those years have affected me as a person.

-I want to share.

You all come to this blog to see me post my direct thoughts about writing, being an introvert, being Too XYZ, or just to see what my latest plans are. And I love you for it. But this sort of writing is not the only writing I can do of course. I’m thrilled when my blog posts inspire people, but I also want you, and others to partake in my “creative” writing. (Though blogs can also be creative.)

My novel is a ways off from being published or self-published. I don’t get much of a chance to share my short fiction over the web. (Mostly because I like to hold out chances for contests and submitting to journals, and publishing my stories to the web could disqualify me for those.) So, I got to thinking that so long as I’m diving back into poetry, I might as well share it with all of you.

For again, this isn’t about publication. (Poetry isn’t published traditionally very often these days anyway.) It’s not about money, or about conforming to expected standards. It’s not about giving people what they want, or studying endlessly to unlock the “secret” of a popular poem. My journey into poetry shall be as it was before. Writing 100% to my own satisfaction in hopes that in so doing someone else will be moved or entertained.

To that end, I will in the near future be opening another WYSIWYG blog/website for my poems. As I explore and experiment with the different forms, I’ll post to this as yet non-existent website so you can read my poetry, comment on it if you want to, and share it with others. I may make occasional comments on the poetry as well, but it will mostly be the poems.

I hope to have all of that finalized within the next week. I will announce the address and such details here when the time comes, and I hope you will join me in my poetry adventure.

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2 Comments

  1. At the risk of sounding corny, this post really spoke to me. I do write poetry — I haven’t done much of that lately, but I do — and it’s just…different. And cool. I’ve found that I have two modes of writing: super long and super short, haha. Poetry and novels, although I’ve been trying to break out of that more with some long stories.

    Some of the appeal of journaling poetry on a physical page is because it is often so personal. I am wary of writing purely confessional poems, but…who am I confessing to? Myself? It’s stuff I already know, which is why the diary style of poetry often works so well. My style got all convoluted and pretentious when I had to write poems for class, to be read in workshop and by professors. :/ I am starting to break out of that.

    Poetry also gives an immediacy and a more focused impact than longer pieces do.

    I do hope your poetry writing goes well! I look forward to reading what emerges on your new blog. 🙂

  2. Thanks, Laura. I’m glad the post spoke to you. That isn’t corny at all, that’s one big reason I write; I want to speak to people. =)

    Since joining a writing group a year ago, I have improved on my short fiction production somewhat. But like you, the novel seemed to be more my thing for a while. (Probably still is to an extent.) I enjoy getting into shorter fiction, but even then there are certain convention of structure that one has to keep in mind. Usually. I’m honing that craft, but as I do so, I felt a desire to really open up with poetry again.

    I suppose by following forms I am still paying attention to structure. But with poetry it feels like more of a choice. And I’m one of those people that sometimes feels even more creative with a structure than without one.

    I look forward to getting some of these new poems out there, and to see what you and others think of them.

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