My Experience With Poetry

I never liked poetry. I always played it off as a dislike of flowery language (which is the truth, but avoiding the actual problem) and that it was too much work to decrypt that language into something that actually made sense. Because you know, in high school, we always read those stupid poems that didn’t make any sense unless you were a professional. And believe me, none of us were professionals.

It’s a little different now. I’ve come to appreciate flowery language for what it is (even if I’m not too fond of writing it myself) and have begun to recognize that poetry does, in fact, have its uses in the world of prose, and when the time comes, I will utilize it for those purposes. However, that’s not really what I wanted to talk about because I haven’t actually gotten to the point in my writing where I’ve felt the need to incorporate that into the text.

I intended to exclusively write fiction because that’s what I’m best at and have the most interest in writing. However, when I was registering for classes at the beginning of the year, I was looking at the creative writing degree requirements. According to UBCO’s website, in order to register as a Creative Writing major when the time comes, I need to have a portfolio that consists of at least two different writing genres. Genres being fiction,  creative non-fiction, poetry, screenwriting, etc.

Well shit, right?

That made me pretty grumpy. I wanted to learn how to write poetry, but I really didn’t want it to be forced on me. And since even now I’m still iffy on screenwriting/ drama and the like, that was pretty much my only option.

So for the time being, poetry is my alternate genre. I’m going to discuss the other options in a separate post later on because there are some other routes I’m considering, they just aren’t really related to this so I don’t want to drive too far off the road. Anyway, the second semester has come around and started, and thus so has my first formal poetry writing class. You know, it actually isn’t so bad. A lot of the poetry we’ve read so far has been rather pleasant and not too difficult to understand (although maybe that’s because I’m not as lazy nor as stupid as I was in high school).

The most important thing so far, though, has been the discovery of the real reason why I’ve never liked poetry. Now that poetry is part of my weekly required readings, it’s become a part of my routine. And because I have a poetry assignment due sometime in the next couple of months, I’ve begun to try my hand at the writing part, as I know I’m no good at it and that I’ll probably need some time to get the hang of it before I’m comfortable submitting anything.and

My god is it hard. Coming up with something that makes sense, flows, and doesn’t sound absolutely corny as shit is next to impossible. I’ve gone through a dozen pages in my notebook trying to write two poems, and I’ve ended up with six parts of six different poems, and one completed piece. Just last night I started rounding out the second poem I was working on, but it took so much longer than I feel was necessary. Ugh. Still, the difficulty isn’t really what’s on my mind. Writing fiction isn’t easy, either, I’m just used to it now, so it’s more that it’s just a familiar kind of difficult, rather than it’s actually become easy for me.

The reason I don’t like poetry, I have realized, is because the flowery language often evokes emotions I don’t want to think about or feel. I was a difficult teenager. I’m a difficult adult. More often than not, the only place I ever expressed what I felt was via the written word, usually in the form of a story that never saw the light of day. And while, when I was younger, I always thought that poetry was complete bullshit, I’m now discovering how easy it is to drop myself in the world of those shitty, cryptic words, and let all that bottled up emotion flow free.

The poems I’ve been writing are filled with angst and emotional torture and depression and it sucks to read that and know that it’s the truth about what I feel. It’s not even just because it’s the truth, it’s also because most of that shit has been shoved so far down inside my pool of emotions that it’s almost painful to bring it all back up like this. I don’t want any obvious evidence of my emotional failings written up and shown to the world– at least with fiction, I can argue that world and those characters are just fucked up and that it has nothing to do with me– and yet the words just keep coming. And coming. And coming.

I feel like the first poem I wrote expresses the sadness that I’ve hidden. The second, though still a work in progress, the anger. The third, still in conception, the disappointment. Every time I write a new word down, even if it’s not something I think I’ll end up using, I feel like I’m getting closer to that happy place. There is a happy place in the world of poetry, right? Well if there isn’t, I’ll sure as hell be making one, ’cause the moment I’m done getting all these shitty feelings out I’m prepared to write a thousand sonnets of joy.

~Erynn

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