I don’t think of myself as a creative writer. Every so often, I take out my leather bound journal (a gift from my mentor) and scrawl out whatever seems to fit the occasion. My poetry is rarely shared, predominantly because I don’t feel that it’s very good. And I’m right because most of it is garbage.
In 2014, my friend Grace and I were discussing poetry (and specifically my poetic voice):
C: I’m jumbled words and half-formed thoughts that resist form and convention.
G: You have a voice and it’s yours and no one else can tell you what it is or whose rules to follow in speaking it (or writing it).
Still, two years later, I don’t often share much of what I’ve written. While I know that Grace is right to say no one but me gets to decide my own voice, I feel compelled to fit my works into the grander tradition of “good poetry.” In comparison, my words are juvenile, poorly written, and, above all else, extremely personal. I’m not comfortable unveiling the vulnerable words inspired by my emotions.
But I started writing poetry again. What I didn’t realize is how my newer poetry is far more representative of what I told Grace two years ago than my older works. This poetry absolutely resists form and convention. Experimental. Frenetic. Volatile. When I’ve shared these works, people are interested even when they don’t understand.
For the first time, I don’t feel like I’m competing with other poets, both living and dead. I don’t feel like I’m trying to make my words fit into some idea of what poetry ought to be. I’m just writing what I want to write and I like it.
Even though it’s still my words and my feelings, the experimental style feels more detached. I’m not afraid of sounding foolish or childish anymore, just in sharing something interesting. Of course, trying to explain exactly what makes these poems more interesting to me is incredibly difficult to do without actually sharing said poems, but they’re still in the editing process.
For now, I’ll share with you a favorite line from a poem I’m working on, so you can get a sense of why feels so weird to me: