Monday, April 14, 2008

Didn't know it

I've written poetry since I was a grade schooler, pretty much the standard fare, though I did have a teacher in 6th grade who went loopy over it. Then adolesence was filled I am sure with lots of maudlin, dramatic crap, though again I had some teachers who liked it. I was admitted to a poetry workshop at a summer humanities camp when I was 13; when I got to camp I discovered that out of the 100 or so kids there, most had tried to get in for the poetry track but were accepted instead for their 2nd or 3rd place choices. I was one of only about 10 kids selected for poetry. The camp itself I hated, but the poetry classes were amazing.

When I was in college I took another poetry workshop with my favorite professor. We wrote and critiqued in three hour long sessions, outside in the sun. It was fabulous. My professor took me aside a few weeks in and gave me the news: she said I had what it took to be a "real" working poet, like Sharon Olds or Pamela White Haddas, but I needed to start writing for several hours a day, every day, if I wanted to give it a shot.

I told J and he was more excited than I was. I think he loved the idea of having a wife who was a poet. Very chic, very arty. However, for me the idea of spending my life immersed in my poems meant a life stewing in pain and despair and terror. My poems are not pretty. My ultimate goal in writing a poem is to convey emotions vividly enough to induce physical sensation in the reader: nausea, shivers, tears. So the process of writing that poem is often quite harrowing.

While certainly satisfying to know I have some talent, I didn't need to think too long about whether to pursue poetry as a career. I knew I could not do that and also have a reasonably happy life. Obviously others can, but for me, it was a one-way ticket to the bell jar. I don't have the glamourous title of Poet, but I also don't have my head in the oven, which seems like a good deal to me.


At 11:09 PM, Blogger jackie said...

I have only recently started calling myself a poet, but I don't think it could ever be my primary occupation-- I need the blend of teaching and writing both!

At 6:57 PM, Blogger cole edwards said...

All that self centered introspection can be oppressive. I think it would be hard to be a poet all the time. The pressure and economy of words is a lot. And I can't spell. I love poetry though.

My bloggy friend Joe Felsco writes in Haiku a lot and I like the Haiku format a great deal. It only leaves you a certain leash and once you have run it out, its done.

You should write some stuff here G. I would love to hear your inner head in an oven (metaphorically speaking, of course.)


Post a Comment

<< Home

- Crazy/Hip Blog-Mamas+
(Random Site)