Coming to poetry

I ended up writing poetry in a way that felt natural but accidental: more a tumble than a growth. When I really reflect upon it, I think I honestly owe it to an inherent and intense hatred of math. I fell in love with language in the first grade, as my teacher always gave us the choice between free-reading or writing continually higher and higher numbers on a scroll. I invariably chose to free-read, and I proceeded to get super into books for the rest of my life. The earliest poem I remember writing was in third grade, about an imaginary mix between a cat and a bunny— very creatively entitled ‘Catabunny”. Following that, I remember writing some (horrible, horrible) poetry in middle school, but it was never out of some instinctive draw to the art form. I guess I took vague inspiration from poets on Tumblr, as much as it pains me to admit it, but I wasn’t thinking about it as poetry, just as a form of journaling. I was a very sad middle schooler 🙁 . In high school, I was part of the literary magazine, and I think that played a very large role in my getting into poetry. At some point in reading my peers’ poems, I was like “man, I could do a better job than that”, and so my poetry path was born! I had the fortune of having really incredible English teachers throughout high school, and they were vital in my development as a writer. From the moment I decided I wanted to be an English major, (a moment I genuinely cannot remember) I knew I wanted to do poetry. It feels very natural to me, and I find that poetry is often simply my way of interacting and understanding the world around me. Once I write a poem about something, I can stop thinking about it constantly. I guess I’ll keep writing poetry until I either die or that stops happening, whichever comes first. 

2 Replies to “Coming to poetry”

  1. When you mentioned the Tumblr poets, it immediately brought me back to middle school. So much flannel. I can’t wear flannel to this day because of how much I wore it in middle school. I have to agree that Tumblr poets were a big influence on my writing back then. They all seemed so cool to a young middle schooler who was trying hard to figure herself out. Tumblr icon Acacia Brinley has two kids now, and I feel so old. I recommend you read the poems “I Wrote This for You and Only You” to reminisce about the old Tumblr poetry days while also looking at some pretty good photographs. You’re “Catabunny” poem sounds adorable. I sometimes wish I never lost that childhood innocence and still wrote stories of whatever my mind can come up with. I think that is why a lot of my own poems are fictionized.

  2. Literary critic Harold Bloom has written that a poem is a response to a poem, and while he means it quite figuratively and psychologically it’s also true literally and it’s been great this semester and last to see how you respond to others’ poems in shaping your own: I think that covers both the realization of one’s skills (“I could do better”) and the sense of ambition (“I envy what that person does”).

    But I’m also curious as a poem as a way to stop thinking about something. I’d love to see you write a poem that explores that, the way the second poem in Girmay’s explores the act of writing. It might feel like an unusual exercise, and different from what you often write, but I think it would fit quite well with the topics you’ve been hovering around. Perhaps try it out instead of/in addition to an exercise one week.

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