Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Lessons In Poetry
I'm going to point out the obvious here and say that I haven't been blogging much of late. Okay, okay. I haven't been blogging at all lately. There are a myriad of reasons for this, but certainly the primary culprit has been the devotion of my writing energies to something else.
Against my better judgment, I decided to ignore my fear of failure and participate in the April Poem-A-Day Challenge with Robert Lee Brewer over at Poetic Asides. For the past two years, I've watched in amazement as my good friend Amanda Caldwell has powered through the month of April and come away with 30 new poems, all the while thinking how I could never ever do such a thing.
You see, I don't like pressure. In fact, it kind of makes me crazy. And the idea of writing poetry under pressure is, well, not my idea of a good time. At all.
But then again, I did make a resolution to write more poetry this year, didn't I? In keeping with that goal, I decided I would write down all the daily poetry prompts during the PAD Challenge and then try to write one poem a week for the rest of the year. That amount of pressure seemed reasonable to me. And you should know by now that I am a very reasonable person.
Of course, you should also know by now that I am frequently undone by my own reasoning.
Things started off well enough. On the morning of April 1, I wrote prompt #1 down in my journal and proceeded to go back to work. This is going to be great, I thought. But within the hour, something started happening. Words and phrases pertaining to the poetry prompt kept coming to mind and before I knew it, I'd written a poem.
Yes, that's right. The girl who could never ever write poetry under pressure did exactly that—and of her own free will. Amazing, isn't it? Well, I think so.
It was an intense month, to say the least, but I am pleased to tell you that I wrote 37 poems during the 30 days of April. I haven't quite gotten over the shock of it. And I don't expect to anytime soon.
I've learned a lot in this process, namely that I need to stop counting myself out before I even begin. I have a hard habit of underestimating my strength, exaggerating my inability, and convincing myself of all the things I can't do. It's true—there are a lot of things I can't do. Whistling, for instance, is completely and inexplicably beyond my abilities. And cutting in a straight line—well, actually, doing anything in a straight line.
But apparently there are a lot of things I can do. Like writing under pressure. Like writing based on someone else's choice of topic and still making it personal and meaningful. Like writing 5 years' worth of poetry in a single month.
I won't say this was easy. It wasn't. Especially when I spent 20% of the month out of state on a trip. Especially when my newly bankrupt employer was sold at auction to the highest bidder. Especially when my doctor told me, yet again, that we've hit a wall and it's time for more tests, more doctors, more hard decisions.
Yes, it was a crazy month in more ways than one. But it was also pretty incredible.
I will spare you the agony of having to read all 37 poems—partly because they are not all edited yet and partly because I don't want all my non-poetry readers to completely abandon my blog. But don't worry. For all my poetry-loving readers, I will be sharing a few here and there in the weeks to come.
In the meantime, there is so much to blog about—photos, art projects, and life in general! I can make no promises as to how quickly I shall catch up with all these things, but I will do my best to at least keep you informed of the important happenings.
Ahhh…it's good to be back.