Monday, March 8, 2010

Poetry is like Gravity

A couple weeks ago I went to the tail end of a poetry workshop that was a part of a larger weekend event. It was there that I realized that I had lost my poetic voice. When I was in school, I used to write the kind of poetry all teens write. I remember I had a whole set of poems about the joys of driving, and another running theme was definitively, often rhythmically, sexual. But more than that, I was deeply involved with the Literary Arts Magazine in high school and received acknowledgment from teachers and peers as a poet. 

That changed when I got to college. I submitted to the LitMag there and was rejected except for two lines taken out of context. I read my work at an open mic and an older woman came up to me and said, "You think a lot, don't you," which sounded critical to my ears. I lost confidence, and even though I have continued to write prose and a lot of my creative prose blends into the poetic, I have really stopped looking for poems or playing with the poetic form. I decided at the recent workshop that I would like to reclaim and rediscover my poetic voice.

Since I am such a lover of NaNoWriMo, I thought I would do a NaPoWriMo for myself (this does exist independently of my project here.) I decided that since NaNo is 50,000 words, I would do 50 poems in one month. And since I didn't want to wait for the 1st, I decided I would go Dark Moon to Dark Moon and wrap up on March 15th. 

Poetry seems to be like gravity. As soon as I relaxed my muscles, so to speak, I fell right into it. I have been prolific. I could easily write 100 poems this month, or more. I sit quietly and the poems are like many colored ends of yarn poking out at me from all directions. All I have to do is grasp their first lines and tug, and voila! out pops a poem. 

I cannot claim that all my poetry is good, because of course it isn't. And at one point about a week into the project, I wrote a poem about how much I dislike my poetic voice for over-dramatizing everything, but then I just kept on going. A project like this is more about quantity than quality, and the experiment over the perfect. I have written some awful poems. But I have also written some very decent ones, and a lot that I would deem good enough. 

Perhaps after the 15th I will begin studying poetry again, looking for what it is that sets good poetry apart from the bad or indifferent. I suspect it is the quality of the poem to inspire, surprise, and create empathy through its use of imagery, sensuality, and comparison. 

This has been and continues to be a very interesting project. I am glad.

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