Poetry

While I rediscovered my early poems in preparation for this part of the website, I noticed a couple of interesting things.

First, these poems represent my first attempts at writing—they’re the first things I ever wrote and subsequently typed into a primitive 1990s word processor. Little snippets of thought, usually no longer than a page in length. For that reason alone, they’re very special to me.

Second, I have never really cared for poems that rhyme. I went through a brief phase where I thought poems had to rhyme, and then decided after about a month that this was totally dumb.  By the time I was eight or so, I was mostly writing prose poems, although generally rather short ones. As I grew older, the poems became longer, but they never go back to rhyme schemes.

I still think it’s really difficult to write a great poem that is forced to reflexively curl back on itself in rhyme. And most of the time, these are not the poems I enjoy, unless your name is Shakespeare or Poe.

Third, I did like poems that used recurring lines and themes. By the time I was about ten, I had developed a taste for poetry that analyzed one subject through a lot of different lenses. I think I probably picked up this tendency due to my penchant for reading suspenseful and driving poetry. (Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”) These repetitive lines work like a pedal point, in my poems—like that droning violin note in Batman: The Dark Knight that pops up just before the Joker seriously ruins some people’s days.

As a side note, I have to say, I am consistently amused, and occasionally impressed, by the force of opinion I managed to muster as a child.  By the time I reached this thematic stage, I was a tornado of feeling, sucking up vocabulary left and right, but often at a loss for how to use my own brand of emotional/compassionate logic properly.  I threw my thoughts out like cows into trees, well aware they would stick, but not quite sure of the consequence.

And, fourth, and most interesting (at least to me), I discovered that the topics of my poems progressed in the same way an artist might learn how to paint. I started with still-life topics, kind of observationally. Then I started considering the lives of people I didn’t know—people I’d made up and stuck into random circumstances. From there I moved into poetry that addressed people I did know, including a few poems about myself and my thoughts. And somewhere around the time that I was moving from fiction to non-fiction considerations, I discovered the ability of poetry to consider ideology and philosophy. These thoughts started small and eventually grew into preoccupations with life and death, the concept of time, and fragmented identity.

So I moved from narrative to descriptive poems. I think this must have happened, at least partially, because I discovered short stories and novels as more expansive forms for narration.

But the fact remains, before I discovered those forms of communication, I had poetry. Which means, unbeknownst to me at the time, poetry sort of taught me how to write. Sneaky, sneaky poetry.

I don’t write a whole lot of poetry, now, and I’m not sure the stuff I do write is really particularly good. I have reached a point where poetry is expulsion. It happens when I am so upset (or on occasion so happy) about something that my mind is reduced to disconnected thoughts. So I throw those thoughts out on paper–usually without punctuation–and feel a little bit better when they’re out of my head.

This means that my poetry is also incredibly personal. I do not share very much of it, and when I do, it’s usually because I can’t bring myself to repeat in conversation what my poem says in writing. I hand over a sheet of paper and ask it to communicate my thoughts so I don’t have to vocalize them.

So, on this website, I might share poems that I’ve read or pondered—because I do still read quite a bit of it—but it’s unlikely that you’ll end up seeing much of my own.

Please, however, feel free to share yours, or to recommend poets you love, poets you hate, and poets you think I, or anyone else, could learn from.

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