Blogging / On Writing

What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Poetry?

April 1st, 2015

I found my voice in the bedrooms of the many homes I lived in as a child. Stuffed in the back of a closet feverishly writing in a journal or reading a novel whose characters taught me how to survive and laugh and believe – I found my voice in the hiding away. I found my voice in the classrooms and hallways and gymnasiums of my youth – escaping my fears and prolonging the inevitable ‘time-to-go-home’.

I didn’t get on a ship and sail across oceans. I didn’t fit all my belongings in one bag and shuffle across a dusty, dangerous border. I didn’t get tossed from parent to parent or family member to family member…in fact, in all the chaos, there was a strong stability.

I didn’t suffer a debilitating disease or break bones or lose someone I loved dearly. Not when I was young. Not when I was building my core, my poetic core.

I didn’t study great poets for my post-secondary degree – Canadian or otherwise – and I will openly admit that I’ve only read two plays of Shakespeare…and yet, I adore him all the same.

What I did was recognize that we all have something to write about. What I did was realize that poetry was a light at the end of many tunnels. And I need the light. I love the light.

One’s history absolutely affects her present. It is truly the mortar that holds together the bricks of her foundation…but the truth is…my truth is that one of the things I must ‘settle’ within myself is that seemingly instinctual need to compare my self – and therefore my history – with others, especially other poets and writers.

And so, my goal over this month of national poetry is to study, appreciate and share my ideas and thoughts on poetry as it lives in my world and in my heart. I will write about how it affects me as someone who writes it, as someone who reads it, and as someone who, at least for this month, has the balls to have and state her opinions about it.

In an effort to challenge myself, I’m taking a free on-line course offered by Stanford University called ‘Ten Poems: Ten Pre-modern Poems by Women’. I know that it will inspire me and help me feel connected to the poets who came before me as I better verse myself in their work and life stories.

Because you see, poetry is for telling stories. Poetry is for reaching into those spaces inside our soul where we keep things hidden like treasure, and we pull gems onto the page because it makes us feel lighter…even if the lightness comes after the anger or frustration or lack. Poetry is to our lives what air is to our lungs. It’s just a shame we don’t treat it as such. Or at least, it’s a shame that we don’t always enjoy it, maybe, like we do our fresh air. I want to be a poet who helps change this.

I believe that my reason for being a poet is to pull out the hidden gems of my humanity and to share my experiences, my soul reflections, and to teach myself that it’s not about comparing but relating and releasing.

Over this month I will write posts about whatever message my poetic heart wants to send. I may not write every day, but know if I don’t, I’ll be thinking about poetry and wishing I was writing!

I may offer a prize for reading…or offer some writing exercises for you to try. I may ask you what you think of a line of poetry or what your favourite line is. I may tell you about a poetry contest or poetry event. It will be all poetry all April.

What do we talk about when we talk about poetry? Let’s have the conversation.

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