Posted by: Viola | February 21, 2014

Poetry means play

When it dawned upon me that I wanted (needed) to be a poet, I knew that life was not going to be easy. I say “it dawned upon me” because my being a poet was not something I consciously planned out or expected for my life, and the idea of being a poet sort of settled on my shoulders, slowly, gradually, over a period of several months. It settled on my shoulders like a pair of hands–heavy hands, yes, but resting lightly on my shoulders. The idea of being a poet came to me, stood next to me, and refused to go away.

My shoulders were quite tired. I had carried many roles, tried them out, failed at most of them, and I was tired. I didn’t want another role that I would fail at. I didn’t want to take on a title, call myself this or that, then go and make a mess of it. I didn’t want to call myself a poet and then screw up and never write one decent poem worth telling anybody about. So I did a little research. Talked to people who were poets. Read some books. Took a workshop taught by a really grumpy but humorous novelist who said that being a writer was just a pain.

The more people I talked to and workshops I took, and the more I tried to write, the more I learned that it is not easy to be a writer. The rewards for creative writing are mostly very internal/private and often greatly delayed. There is no audience cheering for you, no one paying you an hourly rate, while you hold your pen and hover it over your words. There is little immediate satisfaction. It’s a lot of time spent just looking at a page until you feel terribly cross-eyed. But I also found out that one huge part of being a writer, and perhaps especially a poet, is to have fun. To play with words. And being a person who is serious most of the time, I needed to play.

So here I am, about six years since making my commitment to poetry, and life is so frighteningly serious almost all the time. And though I still wonder where exactly my journey with poetry is leading me, I know that I am happier for it. And even when I cannot get a single idea down, or shape a poem that feels fine, I go back to when my shoulders were tired and those hands held me, urged me to just try out being a poet. I rediscover and explore the first poems I wrote at that time, and I can see how full they are, full of something quietly playful and completely free.

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  1. Reblogged this on Viola Heart Yoga.

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