Throughout most of my childhood, which was spent with my favorite dense, multi-colored pencil in hand, I carried around a hefty journal (three rings, with a blue daisy on the cover) in which I wrote countless poems. I received my beloved journal as a birthday present when I was six years old, and wrote in it until the cover fell clean off when I was ten. I wouldn’t consider these poems my best work, though I would consider the artfully placed scratch n’ sniff stickers my first attempt at a poetic device.
Even if my poems were centered around my bowl of “yummy yummy mac and cheese, Mommy can I have more please” or my third grade teacher Mrs. Burke being “full of sunshine, but sometimes she yells STAY IN LINE,” I admire how instant, honest, and unabashed young Grace’s writing was. If I felt sad, I wrote a poem about mean, snot-nosed Austin Richards making me cry on the bus. If I was hungry, I wrote a poem about devouring tacos. If it was Christmas, I wrote about marrying Santa Claus. I didn’t plan or prepare to sit down and write. I didn’t think of who my audience was or cater my words to please others. I simply wrote what was going on around me.
I’ve kept the journal to remind me of my poetic roots, to remind me that poetry is a part of my childhood, to remind me that poetry has always been my way of thinking out loud. When I hit points of unwarranted hubris in my writing, when I lack desire, or when I find myself not knowing if I’ll ever be good enough, I thumb through the journal again. It’s a source of establishment, not as much content (unless I someday find myself in the throes of crafting an ode to Kraft mac and cheese).
My journal whispers to me, this is who you’ve always been. This is a part of you. This is how you think, how you love, how you dream. It never fails to send me back to the drawing board hungry to approach poetry and writing in the same way six-year-old Grace did, clumsy-scribbling about pink lemonade under the table at Ruby Tuesday’s.
Along with my three-ringed sanctuary, here is a list of sources that I tend to draw from consistently:
- Waiting room/passerby conversations. My annoying tendency to eavesdrop makes for some interesting inspiration…how else would I feel the need to write a poem about two old ladies bickering about a mole removal?
- “Cleaning.” I’m a pack rat. I keep every artifact and memory stashed in boxes, under beds, in closets, in the underwear drawer. Nearly every time I’ve attempted to polish up my bedroom, I end up stumbling upon a love letter from my ex-boyfriend or a crappy mix CD from a friend I had in middle school. My room never gets clean, in fact, I would argue it gets even worse each attempt- but I’ve written some powerfully sentimental poetry about an old prom corsage and the rotted, crunchy flower Jacob picked me in eighth grade.
- Dinner time. Kitchens and restaurants are breeding grounds for poetic material, especially in my family. The conversations, the spillage, the drama, the stories, the chaos, the observations- a cesspool of painful inspiration.
- Investigations and snooping. I try to piece together my childhood and the state of my current self by probing my family for information and insight about my father. I have dug through court documents, notebooks, blogs, and letters; my story feels unfairly kept from me. I investigate the unknown so I can get angry, write, and heal.
- Air. So much changes when the air shifts from dry, cracked breath winter to breezy, sidewalk chalk spring. The air determines mood. A summer hot pavement stroll holds different weight than a walk during the peak of golden fall.
- Taylor Swift’s “Red” album. The guiltiest of pleasures, but whenever I go out for a drive on my own, I listen to each of the 16 tracks (except We Are Never Getting Back Together. I hate that song) and sing, scream, cry, pound the steering wheel along with Taylor. These evening drives have been my choice of catharsis, and I almost always have to write about my automobile breakdowns to process.
To be honest about my self-professed poetic immaturity, there are times when the source of my poetry is a mixture of raw, unadulterated emotion and whatever poor, innocent thing I happen to be doing, reading, seeing when the emotional tide sets in.
Source seems endless, and I look forward to pinpointing more of where I draw from and from whom.
For now, young and cheerful Grace keeps me coming back to my writing by way of her remarkable ability to turn every Beanie Baby into a six-lined, rhyming masterpiece.
Young Grace is my source of inspiration, and my drive to continue pushing myself into the depths of joyful, fearless poeticism.