Two poetry-related things that make me anxious

  1. Writing the poetry book review
    I don’t “finish reading poetry books.” I have no desire to read an entire book of one person’s poetry.  Hell, I lack desire to read an entire book of collections of poetry!  When I want to read poetry, I read a few online and then walk away, because I typically don’t hold onto poems if I read twenty at a time.
    Also, does anyone really want me writing a book review?  I’ve only written one, and that was for my dad’s co-authored psychology memoir six years ago.  Now I have to review a book full of poems and find recurring themes and keep my ears open for rhyme and…

    Fourteen-year-old Megan spends recess and choir class in a classroom on the third floor.  Lined paper remains untouched as Megan attempts to conceptualize a poem analysis that will fulfill her teacher’s request.  She does not like handing in late assignments, but she had no choice when presented with this one; not even her dad could understand it, and he was an English major.  It is only on her third day of head-wracking and crying that her teacher finally says, “Just don’t worry about it.  Your grade will be fine, go to recess.”

  2. Not having a known poetic “style”
    We all know what a Grace Poem(TM) looks like, and what a Jasmine Poem(TM) look like, but I don’t have a history of taking workshops and being published so that people know what kind of shit I write. I don’t even know if there’s a theme or motif in my work the way there is in Julia’s.  Are my poems supposed to look similar?  Are they supposed to sound similar?  What if they sound too much like someone else?

Regarding poetry, what makes you guys anxious?

One Reply to “Two poetry-related things that make me anxious”

  1. Megan,

    Thank you for your honesty. Concerning your first point of anxiety — I totally relate to this. I am, by all definitions, a slow writer. Even when it comes to these blog posts, it can take me hours and hours of thinking to cohere my thoughts into something understandable. Ultimately, this means that I am often unable to finish things like blog posts on time. That is a truth that can be an anxiety-inducing and stressful; however, it is unavoidable.

    As for your second point, I do not know if you know this, but I only began writing seriously as a freshman in college. Until Young Arts, I had only taken two formal writing courses: Creative Writing 201 and a workshop in Creative Non-Fiction. What I am trying to say is this: there is no such thing as a Jasmine™ poem. My writing style has changed fundamentally multiple times in the past year and a half.

    When I went to Young Arts I remember being so scared. I knew most of my peers had gone to or were going to governor’s schools, elite, private schools, schools that groomed you for careers in the arts. I knew that most of them had been a part of programs like the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio, Kenyon’s summer program, Seawanee. I also knew that I did not have the time or money to do any of these things. Honestly, I, at the moment, do not even have the money for our course’s books. But the reality is that you cannot treat your peers as a measuring stick for your own success.

    When we, as artists, begin to tailor our work to the tastes of a journal, an editor, a judging panel, we begin to lose agency because our own tastes begin to fall secondary.

    Do not let the external world dictate what you do.

    Of course, I know that this is easier said than done, but it is what we have to do if we want to preserve our own artistic integrity.

    If you need anything, feel free to ping me!

    Wishing you the Best,
    Jasmine Cui

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