I really enjoyed the assignment of writing a cento. I decided to make my cento a collection of some of my favorite lines from some Sylvia Plath poems. Every line is from a different poem. After selecting about 8 lines from 8 different poems, I moved them around in different ways until they made the most sense. It was a lot of fun because it felt like I just had to read things I already enjoyed and put them together in a collage of sorts which is really cool. I also felt a lot less pressure on myself for how it would come out. None of the words were my own so I felt free to use them and not feel nervous about sharing it. But on the other hand, because none of them were my words I felt very hesitant to edit them. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to keep the poem as a collection of lines from Plath’s poems or edit some of the lines to have a little bit more of Mya in it. In the end, I decided to stick to the true meaning of a cento and just kept it as a collage of Plath’s words. I feel like later on would want to play around with editing it more to have more of my voice intertwined with Plath’s voice.
When writing about nature and agriculture, I feel that talking about spirituality is necessary. It feels too connected not to talk about them in the same breath. When we were given exercise 10, which was to write a poem about locating our pastoral in an unfamiliar place, I had to relate it to finding peace in a spiritual sense. I feel that unfamiliar places can give off a calming energy. I don’t believe the familiarity a person has with a place determines how peaceful it is. Especially when a place is very rooted in the natural and spiritual, it can be easy to get very religious and calming energy from it. This feeling is what I wanted to recreate in my poem but I’m not sure if I succeeded because it is such a broad feeling to encapsulate. By picking a specific natural place, it made it easier to hone in on the feelings that these types of places give me.
It was really weird to write a poem that had a set form before I started to write it. I usually write all of my poetry by way of free-writing. Everything I write comes with no thought to form until after it is written. It was really cool to see how writing with a pre-determined form helped me to write a poem. It was fun to write in a different way but I definitely prefer writing free verse.
As a black women, it is impossible for me not to think of my body as inherently making a statement. It takes up space and receives judgement, whether it be good or bad. It’s really hard for me to voice the feelings that society has given me about my body into a poem. I feel like in conversation because my thoughts are so scattered on the topic, it is easier for me to articulate myself because a conversation is more fluid. With a poem, I feel like my thoughts have to be more fleshed out and specific. The words have to be more exact because I can’t really explain myself more if all people have to go off is the poem and nothing more. I am always hesitant to write a politically charged poem because I don’t think my message will come off exactly the way I want it to and these are topics that I don’t want their to be any confusion on my intent.
I believe that writing about something you’re familiar with is equally hard as it is easy. When I want to write about something I am very familiar with, it can sometimes be easier for me because I can probably reference things about it that others can’t or wouldn’t have thought of. For example, for writing exercise 7, we had to write about something we are informed about so I wrote about my body which I obviously have the most knowledge about and experience with than anyone else could. But at the same time, writing about something I’m so familiar with makes me uncomfortable. I feel like I’m trying to capture something that will never be accurately described. At least with something I’m not as familiar with, I know that I won’t get it all completely right so I give myself more freedom. But with topics I’m more familiar with and informed on, I feel more pressure to be very accurate about every thing I say.
Looking up the background for words that are important to my writing was really interesting. I often use the themes of the body and touch through my writing. I know what they mean and are but I don’t often think of what the words mean and what their background is. I like to write about physical interactions because it has become really interesting to me the different ways a person can touch another. It is also interesting to me the different ways a persons touch can affect the other. It was really cool to see the different words used to define body and touch because now it has given me more words to incorporate in my poetry.
Knowing more of the background of words I use to talk about topics I’m already passionate about can really help the writing process and give me a wider range in my writing.
When we began working with stresses in poems and trying to do scansions in class, I was very confused. Being able to tell what syllables were stressed was not really making sense to me even after reading a poem aloud. It seemed to feel like despite hearing it, some syllables just felt like they could go either way. The one tip that really helped was that content words are usually the ones that are stressed. This tip helped with writing exercise number 5 which was to write a blank verse. I tried to alternate content words and prepositions or articles but it wasn’t as easy as I originally thought it was going to be. Giving the poem the rhythm was really difficult but I really enjoyed the flow it gave to my words once I was done. I feel like once I keep playing with it, it’ll eventually feel more natural to hear and write.
When the topic of what organic writing is came up, it confused me. I feel as though you can’t really decide whether someone’s writing is organic because how can you know someone’s intent unless they tell you and everyone’s organic thoughts can be interpreted differently. Someone can feel that my writing can be cliché because it’s often about different kinds of love which can seem overdone but whenever I write, it’s as organic and unique to me as possible.
When I first found my passion in writing, it was usually about my different relationships with family members. This was one of the few topics that I had concrete memories to add to my narratives. There were specific moments and faces that I could paint with my words. But even though as I get older and my relationships with these people are changing, giving me more to write about, I’ve switched my focus on what’s fun for me to write about.
Lately I’ve been very fascinated with writing about the body or more specifically physical relationships and the emotions that come with it. I find that ways to describe this topic come to my mind very organically. It’s so interesting to think of the different ways to describe something as simple as holding hands. I love that what comes naturally to someone’s mind could be the furthest thing from someone else’s mind.
I really enjoyed writing for the third exercise which was writing a poem with stanzas. I think this exercise was easier for me because as part of the exercise, there was a suggestion to steal a line from a poem we’ve already read in class to begin our poem. I stole a line from the poem “You can take off your sweater, I’ve made today warm”. The line goes “what if it’s cold”. Immediately when I went back to this line, I knew what I wanted to write about. It feels a lot easier to write when I’m given a specific starting place. As soon as I read the line on it’s own, I thought of a situation of unrequited love and staying together even when it’s cold. Writing about the physical side of relationships has always been so interesting and fun for me because there are so many verbs, body parts, and descriptions that can be used to describe it. I love seeing the way a single moment or touch can look on paper and the different ways it can be described. I like the way the words slide together and that even if you’re not the one that experienced it, the words can help you feel the way the speaker did.
When writing a poem for exercise 2, it was hard to fathom what direction I wanted to go in to discuss disruption. I feel like I started off wanting the form to mimic the disruption that the meaning should show as well but i began to feel lost. I just began writing with a vague sense of my confusion about my life in my head. I find it really hard to talk about vague topics because I always feel dissatisfied in the production and outcome. I like having specific images and/or events in my head because that makes it easier to know what words to use and what colors and descriptions I should be focusing on.When I try to start writing a poem by just focusing on an abstract feeling, I find myself lost and grasping at straws. It’s difficult to describe a feeling without thinking of specific moments or actions that I can associate it with. I am not the proudest of the poem that was elicited from this exercise but I am learning that not every piece will be perfect but it can still help generate new ideas.