Posted by: Viola | April 5, 2016

A question for every poet

I’ve gotten back to basics when it comes to writing and being a poet. I had drifted a bit far from the basics, in my quest for some sign of being an established poet. I had began to really lose sight of what matters.

Striving for recognition of any kind can be such a huge distraction…submitting my poetry to prizes and preparing a manuscript were exercises that started to take me away from the basics of why I write. Even applying to an MFA program shook the foundation of why I am a poet.

I write because I love to write. I write because ideas well up in me and must come out. I write because I love to communicate my ideas and feelings in the form of a poem. I write because my mind just works that way. It automatically takes it’s thoughts and ideas to the page. I write because it makes me happy, makes me sane, makes me free.

I do not write because I want an award someday. I do not write so I can win a prize. I do not write so that I can publish a book. I do not write so that I can make money. I do not write so that I can become famous. I do not write so that I can show off to people about how smart I am. I do not write so that I can feel all puffed up about my skills or abilities.

I do write, on some level, because I think it makes a difference in the world. I write because poems can change lives and change the world. Poems can inspire people to think about certain things or to question their beliefs and ideas. Poems can inspire the first steps toward personal and collective transformation.

Writing a poem changes my thinking, in a very profound way that I myself cannot fully grasp, but I feel it happen as I move through the poem. And I suspect that, in a similar fashion, when someone reads my poem, their thoughts will move and their views will shift, even if only temporarily.

Only a second is needed. Only a flash of connection and understanding is needed. That is all that’s needed for a change to take place. The poem captures that moment of inner transformation. It holds it. It transfers and shares it. The poem is a pill that can cure a lot of ailments–ailments related to our resistance of change. The poem is a great vitamin to take or share with others. But one must sit down and write it, or sit down and read it.

So that’s why I write. And that’s what fulfills me. And the question I ask myself these days is not why I haven’t won a huge award or published a full book of poems. I don’t ask myself why I am not on a world tour and giving readings to huge audiences. I don’t ask myself that at all. Instead, I ask myself a very simple question:

“Viola, did you write today?”

Some days, I don’t write, but other days, I do. And no matter what, I remind myself that this is all that counts. Taking some time, whenever I can, and devoting that time to writing. It’s important that some days I do sit down and write something and that I commit to returning to my writing. Even if it’s just a word or a sentence. Even if it’s just some idea I gave my focus to and filed away.

No matter how small that effort to write is, it is the most important thing about being a poet. Not the publishing, not the submitting to prizes, not the quest for recognition, none of that matters. All that truly matters is the act of writing. ❤

So, my friend…what have you been up to? Did you write today?

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