Today is National Poetry Day in England, with the theme of Light. I may not be in England, but the spirit of poetry is one that transcends distance. Thus, I thought what better time than now to reflect on the ten years I have spent writing?
I have loved writing since I learned how to form letters, and I have loved poetry since I learned that sentences could be split to form poems; however, I didn’t start writing poetry as a hobby until the age of 14, to cope with the move from Massachusetts to Florida. I wrote about how Massachusetts oozed poetic, and how Florida was a boring tourist trap (even though I have always been crazy about the theme parks!). I wrote poems depicting my deep, symbolic hatred of palm trees, and why the oak tree was a much more dignified tree. I wrote about how much I missed ballet. I wrote how utterly alone I was, and how no one understood me.
This outlet of teenage angst morphed into a practice that I turned to in times of need. I wrote poems about everything – friends, weather, boyfriends, breakups – and copied them into my journals or my MySpace blog. In high school, I often finished my test before some of my classmates, but since it was high school, I had to sit anyway – I took this time to write poems. As a Catholic, I once challenged myself to write religious poetry for Lent. I think I may have gotten the reputation for being the weird girl who wrote angsty poetry, but I didn’t care. I kept writing.
At first, I modeled my poetry after Emily Dickinson. My freshman and sophomore years of high school were spent writing poems in abab format. I was in a long distance relationship and wrote about love and distance. I played Kingdom Hearts and wrote about kingdoms and hearts and the possibility of other worlds. During junior year, I threw rules out the window and wrote in free verse. During my senior year, I wrote about change and hope for the future. I wrote a poem to Obama during his first inauguration (though I never sent it to him). I challenged myself to write an epic poem about a vampyre and I worked on that project for two years. I wrote a collection of poems for my Creative Writing class.
I made mistakes along the way. I submitted to Poetry.com, the infamous site that publishes anyone in a money scheme – no surprise, I was accepted. By the time the “published” poetry anthology landed on my doorstep, I had realized how foolish I had been. I wrote bad poetry. I wrote angsty poetry. I wrote egotistical poetry. Some said I wrote “emo” poetry, but I didn’t care. I kept writing.
Then, something started happening. I got better at writing essays and class papers. My writing scores climbed higher than the other categories in the ACT and SAT. I found outlining and writing projects easy. School became easier for me because of my poetry. A poem of mine even got published in A Celebration of Young Poets: Florida Spring 2007.
Though I entered college as a Psychology major, I switched to the English major my sophomore year. During this time, I wrote less poetry, mainly because I was experimenting with other forms in my classes – short stories, then plays. I wrote a collection of poems for my Independent Writing class. I got published in the university literary magazine and I read my poetry at the university’s open mic nights. I made mistakes in my program, too – I wrote ignorant pieces and I even wrote things I didn’t realize were racist. I learned, and I cared. I kept writing.
I write less poetry now, focusing on novellas and novels. Thus far, I have filled eight journals with poetry. I still keep my earliest poetry, to remind me of where I have been. My first chapbook of poetry, Tableau Vivant, will be published later this year by Dancing Girl Press. Rather than an MFA in Poetry, I would someday like to go for an MFA in Fiction. Until then, I will continue to write both fiction and poetry. I will keep writing.
Poetry was the gateway drug and I have been addicted to writing ever since. When I hold a pen, I feel as if I hold an extension of myself. Poetry got me through the tumultuous times of teenagerdom, and I have an inkling that it will help me for the rest of my life. I will keep writing.
Happy National Poetry Day.