A Twisted Path to Poetry

I thought I was a novelist, mainly because stories came to me in big chunks. I wrote until I was finished, and would find a novel-length story had materialized. Then I was told by my helpful friends, that I wrote in shorthand, and needed to expand the descriptions in my stories, and they became series. This was not a welcome piece of news, because, well, when I finished writing one of these behemoths, I was done.

I took a creative writing course to see if I could understand my problem. The professor was a poet, so I learned more than I ever cared to about poetry. One of our assignments was to find a poetry form on the Poetry Foundation website, and compose a poem in that form. I found the form of the double dactyl and became notorious in my writers workshop for my skill at making fun of people. For a second assignment I found the pantoum, and used it to good effect on more serious subjects.

A funny thing happened on the way to the election. Donald Trump’s  pussy-grabbing statement raised all sorts of horrors from my past and made me a very uncomfortable person to be around. I snapped at people for no reason, yelled at other drivers and gave them the finger (not nearly so dangerous here in Vermont as some other places), and otherwise engaged in self-destructive behavior. Then one night, I started writing poems. They were helpful in getting some of the anger out of me and onto paper. I relived some terrible moments of my past, and turned them, for better or worse, into poetry.

I have now submitted poetry to a journal, recommended to me by a friend. It’s only one journal, it’s only 6 poems stretched over a couple of weeks, but it’s a start. And fiction finds a small home in my poetry, but not the sort I was writing and not the sort I would want to write a full story about.

In January, a local poet will be teaching a three session poetry craft workshop at my writers workshop. If I’m going to keep doing this, I’m going to have to figure out the rules. But who knows? I may get some burning hunger to write fiction again. Or maybe just get the right offer.

 

 

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