Something I’ve been thinking about lately, now in my second consecutive semester of taking a poetry workshop (in other words thinking actively and often about poetry), is when one crosses the bridge from being uncomfortable with poetry to being comfortable with it. In a lot of my other English and Creative Writing classes, the majority of students willingly admit that poetry makes them incredibly uncomfortable—they don’t like reading it, and they don’t like discussing it.
I don’t know that I am wholly comfortable with poetry, either, but I do know that I enjoy discussing it, and even feel rather at home within the space of the poem. So, what happens when this level of comfort goes even one step further—when one becomes more comfortable with poetry than he/she is with prose? We learn prose first. We are taught to express ourselves via strategically constructed sentences which rely on the conventional use of syntax and semantics. Some of us become so comfortable with prose that we are able to manipulate it into art (which begs the question—is poetry just manipulated prose?). So at what point does one feel the need to abandon prose to write in verse—and feel more comfortable doing so?
I consider myself a CNF writer. I love the way that CNF can be both lyrical and prosaic. In fact, just a few years ago, the idea of writing poetry, and worse, having lengthy discussions which explore poetry, terrified me. Lineation was just a way to shatter my home of the sentence. Of course, a lot has changed since then—I learned to reconcile the sentence and the line. But recently, I had an experience which kind of terrified me. A few weeks ago, I had to write a blog post about John Gallaher’s reading for a class. It proved extremely difficult, trying to sum up that experience in a blog post of 300-600 words. While I was writing, I found myself thinking: Wouldn’t this be so much easier if I could just write a poem? Ignore grammatical conventions and just write about this experience as images? As soon as I thought it, I was horrified with myself. Did I just admit that it would be easier to express something via poem? So my question is: Why is this thought so terrifying? And have any of you experienced something similar?