Everyone has. In honor of National Poetry Month, I want to go out on a limb and say that this is really, really okay. Even more, it’s great –no matter how adolescent, how much they make you cringe, how good they look in your drawer, the poems you write over the course of living your life really matter. The act of writing poetry is an important one, and one more people should undertake. (At some other point this month, I’ll talk about the act of reading poetry. But that’s for later.)
People write poetry because they instinctively know what Emily Dickinson actually knew how to put into words — that poetry is the distillation of experience, and sometimes it is the only form that will do for what you want to say. Or maybe you just liked the way those violets smelled. No matter. We all have something we need to distill, even if it’s that not-so-great-smelling ex-boyfriend, like the one who inspired this poem, the first few lines of which I give you, perfectly free, in honor of National Poetry Month:
I am not a service station,
when I asked,
What about me?
Now I know you’re thinking, NO! She really dated someone who said that? Why yes, I did. And worse. What could I do but write about it? By the end of the poem, I realized that all the bad stuff from that long ago time could not be laid at his feet alone. Mine were involved too. If you write honestly, whether you choose a sonnet or a limerick, even if you write not so beautifully, you find yourself staring down some hard truths. And that’s all to the good.
Here’s another one:
Sometimes it’s what men smoke
when they want to be men.
Sometimes it’s the haze in the air
that obscures a man’s face.
Sometimes it’s what he’d like to do
with the woman across the room.
Except he can’t;
he can only blow smoke.
Okay. I know it’s not Lycidas. Still, it amused me to write it and if I had time, I’d tinker with it, remove some words, figure out the line breaks and it would be more amusing still.
This was fun. All over the web, people are writing poetry (some secretly). And they are encouraging others to talk about poetry. And I think this is just great. Bring on the poims, I say! Go look here and here for some more.
Because I firmly believe it is just fine and appropriate to revel in words — to begin by putting them down in the more abbreviated form with line breaks we think of as a “poem,” and then maybe moving on to rhyming stuff if you feel like it, or counting syllables and giving the world (or at least your journal) a sonnet — or figuring out how to spell out something like Happy Birthday Ed, with each letter of those three words standing for something you like about that person, such as “helluva guy.” This is not a post about quality or value or judgment. I think if people write for fun, eventually, they will want to figure out how to make their fun writing the best writing they can. But if they never get around to writing for fun, well, they certainly aren’t ever going to get to the good writing. And they’re not going to read it either, I’m pretty sure, not for fun anyway.