Poetry Overload

Hey Poetry friends!

With the onset of National Poetry Month, and given the fact that I just came back from CUPSI in Virginia Saturday night, I’m feeling completely immersed in poetry. Now this is not a letter of complaint by any means, but more a format for me to share my feelings in this particular entry, as well as a way to search for some kindred spirits in the hopes that we might band together and share tips on doing some epic soul-growing.

So CUPSI stands for College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. For four straight days, slam poets from across the nation hung out around Richmond and poured their souls out to strangers. We laughed, we cried, and we had some unforgettable experiences. I’m still reeling from my time at Virginia Commonwealth University even as I type, and I think I will be for some time yet. To make a long story short and skip over basically everything: while I was there in VCU, the poets had a few choice phrases they would shout out to any given poet as they walked up to the mic. Things like, “You got this!”, “Don’t be nice!”, and “Remember why you wrote it!” I want to focus on that last one, as it connects to the point I’m trying to make at feeling a little overwhelmed from all the poetry (see title). You see, for me, I’ve been coming to realize that writing all this poetry has helped me discover and define myself, and has helped to show me who I want to be. When asked to “remember why I wrote it,” the answer is complex and fickle, just how my poetry feels like it has been lately. There are so very many lessons and interpretations and suggestions in poems of any kind, and I find myself wanting to become the person I try to be in my poetry (when I write about being a happy, optimistic individual, that is). Perhaps understandably, I’m feeling overwhelmed because there has been a sudden massive influx of incredible words that I’m trying to not let slip away. You all ever have profound, life-changing experiences with poetry? Or the a littler kind of thing where you changed up your routine because of something pretty cool you heard or read? Has it ever happened a lot in a short period of time?

I’m interested to hear your voices if any of you are up to sharing. I know I could talk for hours on the topic of poetry and the effect it has had on my life, so I hope the above is comprehensive. If not, I’d totally be up to talk for hours.

3 Replies to “Poetry Overload”

  1. Dear Pam,
    This is really great; it sounds like you had a truly awesome experience at CUPSI. While I don’t have much knowledge about slam poetry and how it differs from what we practice in class, what spoke to me most about this post is your attention to what your poems teach you about yourself, and how you are trying to be the type of person who writes your poems all the time. I’ve got a few things to say about this: for one, honestly I don’t know if the latter is possible. I know it takes me forever to get in touch with the portion of my mind that writes my poems, and while being there for a little while helps me to shape the rest of my opinions about things I see every day, there is no way I could be that person all the time. Maybe someday, but as for right now I think I (and perhaps you too) still have a lot of things to figure out. Secondly, I don’t think you should put so much pressure on yourself to be the subject of your poems. Conversely, I think it should be the other way around. Don’t try to make connections between your poems as you’re writing them. Rather, write what comes to your mind and see how they connect in the end. In the last collection I wrote for Poetry I, I didn’t even realize how similar the subjects were in all of my pieces until I looked at them together, and that moment alone allowed me to see something in myself that I hadn’t seen before. I guess what I’m trying to say is that maybe you should focus less on writing with intent, and rather just see where the poem takes you (as cliché as that sounds!)
    Good luck,

  2. Hi Pam,
    As you know I’m super interested in slam poetry. I think it is amazing that you went to CUPSI and were able to have that experience.
    I agree, poetry has definitely helped me to discover myself. I actually didn’t like poetry for most of my high school career. It wasn’t until I became a senior that the poet in me really started to show. I think this is because I participated in Poetry Out Loud. It’s a national recitation contest. I won the school competition, reciting “After Apple Picking” by Robert Frost–it took a month to memorize. For the regional competition I recited two different poems but I wasn’t as nearly invested in them as “After Apple Picking.”
    My point of reminiscing is to say it wasn’t until I lived through those words that I came to love writing poetry. I don’t believe I would be so invested in poetry now if I hadn’t participated in that competition.
    Every year my high school has an Open Mic Night, which is run by the literary mag “Fragments.” When I was a senior I hosted OMN with my friend–we were co-editors of the magazine. That night was my first experience reciting the closest thing to “spoken word poetry” that I have ever written and honestly it was one of the best experiences of my life. My poem was all about high school and graduation, some people were crying when I was finished. A guy in my grade who I didn’t know too well came up to me and said, “So when does your book become available on Amazon?”
    These experiences have inspired me to become a better writer every day.
    I know I rambled a lot, but these events are so significant to me.
    Thanks for reading,

  3. Thanks for the thoughts, Ashley and Arianna. I guess we wouldn’t be here if writing in whatever form didn’t speak to us in some significant way. So whoever else is reading this, keep sharing! Tangents and rambling and anecdotes are all appreciated!

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