Reflections on an Accidental Week of Writing Poetry

I mentioned in Friday’s post that last week’s all-poetry theme wasn’t intentional.  The fact of it is, even though I pretty regularly post poems here, I’m always sort of amazed that I’m writing them at all.

I’ve never considered myself to be much of a poet. In high school, I hated the lessons that involved writing poetry – not as much as anything to do with math, but a lot. In college, I stayed very (very) far away from any class that would have had me writing poems, a policy that kept me from getting a concentration in creative writing. And even as I started this blog, and my current creative writing journey, I remember thinking to myself: “Well, I can write anything but poetry.”

It’s all very strange, because I love poetry.

I love reading it, performing it, pondering it, memorizing my favorite poems and quoting them, usually in full and often at inopportune moments. And so I asked myself, over the weekend, why I’ve always had such a hard time with the idea of writing it. And I think the answer is really simple: I don’t feel like I’m good at it.

Rest assured, I don’t need validation or compliments here, though kind words are always appreciated. What I’m getting at is, I think, a larger issue in our culture, whereby we seem to be operating under the incredibly damaging and entirely false belief that if you’re not really good at something, there’s no reason for you to do it.

Not a great singer? No karaoke for you. Go sit in a corner and be embarrassed at your wobbly warble.

Not a good runner? Find another form of exercise. No running groups for you! You’ll slow everyone down.

Can’t draw? Get out of here, false Picasso. No room for your stick figures on this canvas.

And I’m sad to say that for the longest time, this is how I felt about poetry. It doesn’t come naturally to me, and I’ve read so much good stuff (hats off to you, poets of WordPress!), and so I fell into the trap. Why even spend my energy on it? No future for me in it, so it’s a waste of my time. I’ll never be great, so why do it at all?

Except, I was wrong. Of course I was wrong. And these last couple of years have been a journey of discovering just how wrong I was. Because the why has nothing to do with greatness, or compliments, or money. The why is so simple: I enjoy it.

I’ve found, as much to my surprise as anyone’s, that I actually, truly, completely enjoy writing poetry. It makes me happy. I love the rhythm of sound and silence, and the way the words dance when you get them just right.

For me, there’s joy in writing poetry, even bad poetry, and that’s enough.

And frankly, that’s enough for anything – drawing, singing, running, writing… You don’t have to be an expert, or a natural, or even any good, to enjoy something. And enjoying it is reason enough to do it. Life is just too short to live it without joy.

So here I am, a not-very-good poet, clacking away on my keyboard, enjoying myself and appreciating that poems exist in this universe and I can write them (sometimes badly). It’s taken me years to get here, but I can say confidently, in this moment, I write poetry.