I’ve wondered whether or not I should write on this topic as I’ve been in hot water for four years because of it. I don’t want to roil the waters. But a narrative about me seemed to have developed in my hometown that took on a life of its own. So this is my attempt to change the narrative.
I love poetry. My mentor, my high school English teacher with whom I remained friends for over forty years – I was with him the day he died – was a wonderful poet. He taught me to love Shakespeare and other poetry. He wrote a poem for me after my dog of 16 years died; he wrote one for my wedding; he wrote a house blessing for the first house I owned.
His name was Ed Brush. He’s the Ed I refer to in Karen and her Writing Shed.
With all his love of poetry and commitment to the craft himself, he never once claimed that poetry was a higher art form than any other literary art.
So I have been absolutely dumbfounded to learn that there exists a group who refer to themselves as “the” poetry community, who claim the authority to determine what is, and what is not, a poem, and who seem to believe that writing poetry sets them apart from – well, I’m not even sure what it sets someone apart from.
And here’s why that baffles me.
I believe we are spirits learning to be human. And for me, epiphanies come in those moments when the sacred meets the profane – when the spirit feels the full impact of what it means to be housed in a mortal body, and simultaneously, the earth-bound self recognizes it is part of something bigger than itself – part of a continuum of human experience.
That’s what I write about. I write about the connection.
A writing prompt led me to remember four-o’clocks, flowers that bloom late in the afternoon. I remembered them from my childhood. That gave me the seed I needed to write about something I had wanted to write about for a long time – how it felt to lose my father to dementia – before I lost him to death. I thought it would be a short story. Then it turned into a poem. But it only took on the right emotional tone for me when I wrote it as a prose poem.
I think of writing as my dowsing tool. I use it to find what’s below the surface. Exploring the form, and then crafting it using my knowledge of the language is how I get to what I want to say.
I think writing is too big to limit it. Good writing is important. And by good writing, I mean the writer has a command of the language (or is willing to learn it) and uses that knowledge to craft it well.
But it’s up to the writer to determine the form, and then to make the commitment to use the craft of writing to get it right.
My husband, Tom, is a composer. He offered me this: “Blogging is improvising for writers.”
I like that.