Saturday, April 9, 2011

Think About Poetry

Happy National Poetry Month!

I'm not necessarily a fan of "special" months (and it's my understanding that April is the "special" month for several other issues/subjects besides poetry), but poetry is a subject that tends to be underestimated by the general public. Most poets cannot make a living by their art alone. Creative writing, in general, does not usually pay the bills; but fiction writers can, at least, dream of a bestseller. Poets...not so much. That has to tell you something about poets: we write because we enjoy it, because we are compelled to, and/or because reading a well-crafted poem gives us pleasure, so we are constantly attempting to write that poem. Of course, there are other reasons too (I am not speaking for all poets--I'm just speaking for me).

I've been writing poetry regularly for about 15 years. I had dabbled with it before that (mostly in elementary school), but my original (read: childhood) plan was to become a murder mystery author. Because I was born the year Agatha Christie died, I thought it was my "destiny." (Apparently, I thought I'd be as well-known as she was, too.) But figuring out the intricacies of a good mystery plot is quite the task; figuring out the intricacies of ANY plot is quite the task. On the other hand, coming up with a plot isn't really necessary in poetry (and, bingo...a poet is born!).

I write poetry that I hope will be read by others. I write poetry because I want to get it published. Even so, I write from the heart. It's rare that I write a poem that is just for me. However, that's what I've been doing lately. A few months ago I experienced a sort of "trauma" (for lack of a better word) that left me struggling with a lot of "issues" (again...for lack of a better word). I blamed myself for what had happened, my emotions ran awry, and I quickly ran out of coping mechanisms. My instinct told me to write, which I did; but I was still writing for other readers. A number of years ago I used to journal incessantly--and the thought to do this crossed my mind--but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I made little notes to myself, but that was pretty much the extent of it. Finally, somebody recommended I write "journal-like" poetry (not to be read by others), and this is what I've been doing. It's a pretty obvious solution, but perhaps I just wasn't to the point where I could do that before. Interestingly, the woman who suggested this to me was not a writer, but she had gone through a similar "trauma" as I had and had found that writing poetry (she used the term "poetry" loosely, but poetry has a loose definition anyway, so I'm calling it--definitively--poetry for her!) really helped her through it.

So,...yet another reason to write poetry: it's therapeutic! Of course, it doesn't have to be just poetry. Any creative writing can be therapeutic; any creative endeavor can be, for that matter! Drawing, painting, crafting, etc.

To celebrate National Poetry Month, I'm encouraging you to read some poetry, write some poetry, attend a poetry reading, or just take a moment to think about poetry. If you're not writing poetry, at least do something creative. Support the arts in your community; or, just as importantly, be a part of the arts in your community!

And, like a circular poem, I will end this entry the way I began (but with a minor font adjustment):

Happy National Poetry Month!

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