a meditation on poetry & writing

There was a time when every molecule of my heart, brain and soul was interlaced with poetic verses, whether they were mine or someone else’s. It was a time when I believed that a simple line of poetry could change the world, or at the very least, someone’s outlook.

But here we are, running into May, past the month-long celebration of poetry that is April’s National Poetry Month, and nary a word from me about it. There were years when I made it my mission to deliver poetry to anyone and everyone every day in the month of April and beyond that. I recall my poem-a-day emails to co-workers and friends some years ago at a former employer. I would relish finding the exact poem to share with these folks, who did enjoy receiving the fanciful lines and colorful phrases.

Now, I will occassionally update a white board in my cubicle with a quotation that is topical or otherwise relevant. Right now it bears this:

Everything is blooming most recklessly;
if it were voices instead of colors,
there would be an unbelievable shrieking
into the heart of the night.
– Rilke

And that’s beautiful, isn’t it? It makes you look at the change of seasons in a different way. It makes you feel like there is an underlying motivation to all things, or at least there is in some people to define and describe the life around us in such spectacular ways.

The other day I received an invitation to contribute some ‘wisdom’ to a book of sorts that was being compiled for a couple ladies who are turning 18 and graduating from high school. There were various topics to choose from including money, exams, laundry and other life stuff you have to figure out as you get older. Another option was writing which is the one I selected, and here’s what I wrote:

“Take care when you write anything, whether it’s a personal letter, a business letter, a research paper or an email. Being able to communicate through the written word is becoming somewhat of a lost art, yet it still reflects on you.

Use spell check. If you don’t know the difference between their, they’re and there, figure it out.

Let writing be another outlet for your creativity. As you get older and experience more than you ever dreamed, capturing it in writing can make the difference in how the experience shapes you and connects you back to it. Memory alone can only serve you so far. Reading back on something you did or something you felt will ensure that it will be something you never forget.

Use writing as a cheap form of therapy. Work it all out. Get messy.

And in the end, you’ll also gain something else, whether it’s the next day or years later, you’ll have the gift of perspective.”

I was pretty proud of these little bits of advice, but then I stopped and thought, “Why don’t I follow my own advice more?”  I mean I certainly believe all of what I wrote in my submission but it struck me that it’s easy to spout this stuff and think about it in theory, but to put it into practice is an entirely different thing.

And then, what gets me about that, is I didn’t use to think that way.  It was inherent.  It was just another part of my day, like checking my email or eating a snack, I was infused with poetry.  I don’t feel it so much anymore and the reasons for that are an accumulation of so many things.  But that doesn’t make what I wrote for these 18 year-olds any less valid, right?  I mean, I suppose that’s why I started this blog in the first place, to have a new space to come and get messy, to have that place where I can gain some perspective.  The difference, of course, is that there’s an audience (albeit only 2 or 3 of you really!), but it makes a difference.  So essentially, this space became something else, still valid, still worthy, but not the place where I let it all go.  That’s what I have my journal for and yet, I couldn’t tell you the last time I cracked that open, much less a poetry journal, something that used to catch all kinds of creative and random thoughts.

So the true point of all this seems to be how do I welcome the poetry back to my being in a way that is seamless.  How do I live poetically?  How do I reflect that desire amidst the sometimes mundane aspects of daily living?  Altough the idea of “me-time” seems cliched and Oprah-esque, I can see where it becomes necessary to voice such capitulations, but I feel like I have enough “me-time,” it’s what I’m doing with it that needs to be  re-worked.   And through it all, I will strive to heed Maya’s command: don’t forget to write.

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