line break (up)

As I sit here in Panera Bread, wearing noise-cancelling headphones that don’t quite work (think: The Shins with a glorious orchestra of crying babies and clanking silverware), I’m thinking of some serious poetry questions.

Ah, the break-up poem. The glorious, multidimensional, cathartic break-up poem. After quite a tumultuous end to a tumultuous relationship, I find myself writing pages of break-up poems and angsty love poems…even when I don’t want to write about this topic because I’m sick of reading about it in my own work.

I guess this post is more of a question for all of you: how do you stray away from your immediate circumstances and write about other things? How do you write about other topics than just the one you gravitate towards? How can you use the poetic line to do this (getting away from the form and lineation that is most conducive for the topic)? How do you break-up with break-up poems, at least for a little while?

I want to write about cleaning products or farcical political things or the meat industry…not because these represent my passion, but because I want to try writing about ANYTHING that isn’t dripping with unrequited love and ice cream (most likely).

For now, I’ll eat my free apple (I wish I had chosen the baguette as a side) and brood some more.

5 Replies to “line break (up)”

  1. Grace –

    Burn them.

    Or, if you’re worried about the fire hazard, tear them up. Drown them in your kitchen sink (and be sure to use a pen that bleeds so you can watch the words turn to Rorschach blobs). There’s some kind of weird witchcraft to it, trust me.

    (I expect some backlash on this – in general I agree its better to keep your old work, even if you hate it. So, make copies. Stow one somewhere you don’t have to look at it for a while, and destroy the other. Do this when you’re upset, so you don’t get distracted thinking about how melodramatic you’re being and can properly bask in the catharsis).

    Then write a poem about that.

    Maybe it’ll still be a breakup poem, but it’ll be a different kind. There’s nothing worse than trying to make a poem something it doesn’t want to be, so just try to write all the different kinds of breakup poem there are. Are they bittersweet? Make them angry. If you’re lonely, find something good about the solitude. Write a poem about being sick of writing breakup poems! See how far you can get from this person, until they’re all about you instead.

    And, try not to re-read them too much. Get them out, and don’t look at them again for a while.

    1. I like Olivia’s suggestion. Keep digital copies, but burn any physical ones. It’ll be badass.

      I wish I could offer my own advice, but I’m struggling with the same thing right now.

  2. DON’T BURN THEM.
    This is the kind of stuff you’ll look back on and laugh about in 5 years, but you’ll have some wonderful lines that’ll get lost to the flame. Sometimes you need to write about your immediate circumstances. It’s like swallowing when you have a sore throat: a knee-jerk reaction that might not always help the situation, but will certainly do a little good at the moment it happens.
    When I go through a breakup, breaking up is all I can write about, for obvious reasons. My advice is to get it out. Get at least one poem out that you feel okay about and then try to write something else after. That way you’ve blown out the boogers and you can breathe a little.
    Sorry you’re going through a tough time! It’s hard, but good writing often comes from painful circumstance. At the very least, it’ll help you make new connections you didn’t see before.

  3. Just think of it like a photograph in black and white. Now think of this photo if it were to have been developed in negatives. What was illuminated when you switched the focal colors? What became black and what became white? If you’re thinking of a photo of a person, what would happen if you took out any distinguishing features and wrote about a silhouette? What I’m trying to say without being so philosophical is to think of the essence of the poem and what you can equate to it.

  4. While reading your post and trying to put my words into a reply, I think you kind of answered your own question: write a poem about not wanting to write a love poem. Write a poem about literally everything other than a love poem.
    I am sorry that you’re going through a break-up (they always stink), but I agree with Marley and Olivia that you should write them to get them out of your system.
    Best of luck!

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