I haven’t read much about the craft of poetry. Maybe I should. I read poetry and enjoy it. But I’ve always written poetry as long as I can remember, and I’ve never cared about meter or rhyme.
I don’t set out to write a poem with a structure in mind. As I write, the poem dictates what shape it will take. Maybe I find I love the feel of four-syllable lines on my tongue, repeating. Maybe every thought expressed itself in verses of ten lines. Maybe it’s prose all sprawled out in a formless mess. Or I get inspired by onomatopoeia and I love the way the repetition pulses in between the words. I love accidental indirect rhymes that are born naturally, only when needed.
Poetry is where my natural mind can run free. I write poetry much less now, the more I’ve aged. When I was younger I wasn’t conditioned on the “right” way to write. I wrote as I felt.
Now, after years of writing professional and techincal documents and emails, I feel that I’ve put all of my writing in that same box. It must all be stark, direct. I leave little room for my thoughts to meander, and it’s hard to undo that.
I stopped writing for a long time, and I think part of it was the struggle with this “professional” writing. Some people are good at compartmentalizing their life, so that when they write, they can use their writer’s voice, and when they send an email they can use their professional voice. I’ve become a person with only one voice.
Poetry allows me to rediscover the uninhibited voice of my youth, but it’s a difficult vein to tap into. I often find I can only write poetry when I’m in nature now, where I can breathe freely.
Poetry is like any other kind of writing, and it requires practice. I am trying to practice writing poetry more and more, as challenging as it is. I’m reading more poetry as well, which I haven’t done since my love affair with Emily Dickinson many years ago. “Because I could not stop for death” is one of my favorites, and is the only poem I’ve ever memorized.
When writing is hard, write more. Unearth the hidden voice in yourself.
Underneath all our conditioning on how to be “proper” humans, we have something wild and free that’s begging for attention. Make time to listen.