Recently, I have had a block in regard to writing poetry. This really hasn’t happened to me before, at least not for this long. Something feels different, but I can’t quite put my finger (or pen) on what it is. When I started writing, I wrote a lot, like reams of really bad poems and then depended on my teacher to cull through it all and find the seeds that could germinate into real poems . Finally, he told me that I needed to do a little culling myself before turning them into to him. I just hadn’t trusted myself to know what was cull-able. When I got more confidence, I waited for the aha moment. That’s when I felt like a poem was coming that demanded to be written. Getting that idea was so exciting and the energy that emerged pushed the momentum of the poem forward, almost as if I couldn’t stop the poem from being born. These were fun, productive years.
But, gradually, I began to write more and more infrequently. There was still the initial rush that came from an idea that just jumped up and down and wouldn’t shut up, much like a two year old demanding attention. But as my poems matured (and maybe I did also) I found poetry less demanding of my attention and I could leave it alone for longer periods of time and trust that it would behave and still be there when I returned.
The years went by, and I would even wonder sometimes if my poems were leaving the nest for good, since I didn’t feel the urgency to write that I had before, and our relationship had certainly changed. We didn’t need each other in the same way that we had before. There was a phase where I wasn’t sure I even liked poetry anymore. It hadn’t really done a lot for me, in terms of tangible rewards. And the other poems that found their way to our house were not like the ones I had been taught to write as a younger poet. I was mystified by them sometimes and other times horrified by their shocking language and loose ways. Were they even poems? I wasn’t sure I knew anymore.
Which brings me back to where I started– five children sent out into the world,
and living respectable lives, but none of them setting the world on fire. And I’m not sure where I go from here. As I write this, I’m sure of one thing. I will always love poetry, even if it doesn’t call me as often as it should, and even if it shows up pierced and tattooed, hungry and asking for a small loan. Maybe I need to branch out, think outside the poem—I might even write a blog.