On Poetry, In Time

Poetry’s ability to move through time, including the future, has always amazed me. I’ve noticed poets experimenting with tenses, form, and narratives in order to do so, and it’s inspired me to the same. I’m always conscious of my tenses when writing prose (as I feel one should be) but in my poetry, it usually comes naturally. Tenses are particularly important to me because it eliminates confusion for the reader (and I’ve caught myself messing them up sometimes). In terms of form, I’ve never branched out into innovative forms of verse but I would love to one day (if anyone has suggestions on how to approach poetic form that works with time, let a girl know!). But, of course, my favorite way in which writers play with time in poetry is with narratives. The voice of poem can range from a present day news reporter to a WWI doctor. The moment narrative voice is identified, the reader already has a sense of where on the fabric of time they have landed.

Rhyme to Meter

I began writing when I was eight years old, composing lyrics to songs with no music behind them. I thought music was the only thing worth writing in a world concerned with fame and money. But I thought it always had to be about love or pain to be popular. So I wrote about my nonexistent romantic encounters and faults. I never approached topics that meant anything to me. I grew tired of hearing no instrumentals to the words I wrote so I stopped writing for a long time (almost 6 years). In ninth grade, I started writing short stories about the people I saw walking into train cars. I wrote stories inspired by Criminal Minds episodes and my amazement at peoples judgmental attitudes towards the arts. Amidst transcribing a rant about politics and conformity, my friends looked up the qualities that pertained to my astrological sign. And since was birthed my first official poem, “Ode to a Gemini.” That’s when I realized words could explain more things than just love or pain. They can dig out all the hate, disgust, lust and trust in you and bring them to the surface, without any music in the background.

Adrenaline

No, I don’t play competitive sports or shoot up heroin. I don’t go on morning runs or watch the Super Bowl. I get my adrenaline from the scores and lighting in movies seen in theaters and the smell of cooked arroz con leche from Washington Heights bakeries. My poetry often reflects the many rants I have with myself, in my head, on a daily basis. That smell of arroz con leche inspired a love note to my favorite neighborhood in Manhattan. The score of the film Queen & Slim brought a piece about children wanting power out of me. My poems are usually about other people, but I never take the time to notice how frequently the things that trigger my senses provoke the way I express my thoughts about them. I wrote a poem about a boy this past June that, after re-reading it, I realized was inspired by my reusable Starbucks cup with desert rock and cacti patterns on it. Another one of my pieces was derived from studying gothic architecture, specifically in the texture of the Chartres Cathedral’s outside walls and windows. I am drawn to art of all kinds, as long as it indulges my senses. I then incorporate this physicality, or at least I attempt to, into my poetry. I have yet to find a taste that provokes my poetic thought, but I am on the hunt for one. Who needs drugs or athletics when there are movie soundtracks, your grandmother’s cooking, and Art History classes?