the energy of happiness & writing away strife

One of my biggest role models and continued writing inspiration, Andrea Gibson, recently was interviewed about her poetry and asked about her lack of love poems. She said “If the world wasn’t such a mess, I’d spend my lifetime writing only love poems.”  I’ve been thinking about this quote all week long. And it fits into our conversations in class here and there about ‘happy poetry’ and Lytton pushing us to write more about happy moments.

There is merit to this– the poet who crafts poems about their biggest (and smallest) tragedies, loss, grief, sadness, etc. Where is the poet who focuses on solely the small pleasures in life, whose main wellspring of inspiration is the emotions of joy, happiness, and youth? I’ve been thinking about a conversation I had with Lytton, in which he was highlighting the importance & necessity of ‘writing away strife.’ He said “we need the energy of happiness to not just worry.” And so, here I am today, trying desperately to find and maintain a healthy balance of worrying & having the energy of happiness to fuel my writing.

However, int he vein of Andrea Gibson’s quote, the reason I haven’t been writing ‘happy’ poetry is that there is just too much going on around me that makes me angry, disappointed, sad, sick to my stomach, etc. I write mainly about the things that keep me up at night, or make me want to sleep for weeks. I write about what makes me sick to my stomach, what makes my head hurt, what makes my heart frown. I’ve been trying to apply this same energy to the ‘happy’ occurrences, like what makes my heart smile, what colors my cheekbones on gloomy days, etc. I think it’s just that we experience the bad and the negative as all the more heavy and weighing and pressing. The happy feelings are lighter. They are easier to shrug off.

I’m making it a goal to wed this energy of happy with the energy of despondency & try to compose more happy poems. That is not to say, I think it is more important to ‘write happy’–it depends on the person and what emotional sources you follow the most. But it is important to be mindful that what we are doing is not just “worrying” but taking something awful, stomach-quivering, and making it into a call for change, highlighting the ironies and injustices within them. We need the energy of happiness to sustain motions such as this.

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