Why I don’t write more poetry

I had a completely different post planned for today but yesterday, whilst I was trying focus on my novel and working on finishing chapter 3 I found myself feeling disconnected from what I was working on. I figured it was a little useless to try to force myself to continue as it would only lead to heavy editing later on so I opened up a new word document and decided to write something that better expressed how I felt in that moment. The past few months have been strange for me, despite living here for just over 6 months now it feels somewhat closer to a year. Without getting into too many details about my personal life, a lot has happened that threw me into a bit of inner turmoil and now I am reaching the point where I am okay with processing my feelings because it always takes me a long, long, long time to feel things truly.

I stared at this new word document for a minute or so and started spilling some overly emotional prose, the kind that you don’t show to anybody but it wasn’t quite pulling all the emotion I had welled up inside of me onto the page. I saved what I had because I like to believe that any writing you produce, even the stuff you never intend to show to another soul because it is a raw part of your own, is valuable for later use or reflection. So I picked up my phone and flicked to my memo page where I had typed up a small poem on the metro when I was feeling similarly overwhelmed and typed it up on my laptop. I read it. I read it again. I read it out loud. I expected to start feeling less towards it and be able to see it in a more critical light but I just couldn’t. It was too close to home. Like the prose, it was a too honest portrait of myself.

My poetry has always suffered in this way. When I first began considering becoming a writer I would scribble short stanzas, occasional couplets and sometimes even manage a longer piece of completed work in my diary or on my phone but these were never for anyone except me. Poetry for me is a wholly personal endeavor. I find it almost impossible to tell a story through poetry that doesn’t tell the reader all the things about me that most people don’t get to know. It’s a bit funny really because I could probably produce a large collection of poetry with all the bits and pieces I have lying around but they are also exceedingly amateur in their construction and I have no wish to let anyone read them in their entirety ever. I started with writing poetry, I didn’t write my first proper short story until university and yet it is the poetry that I find impossible to work with because I cannot create a comfortable enough distance between myself and those words.

Only two of my poems are out in the open and that was because I had to do them for a university assignment but they were heavily edited over a couple of weeks so they are almost impossible to link to anything to do with me. My reluctance to open up my poetry to the rest of the world isn’t something that I feel is holding me back, I will always write poetry but it’s just for me and I’m okay with that. To all my poetry people* out there who can produce such beautiful work so freely and give it to the rest of us, I salute you.

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*Especially Mary Oliver who I recently discovered thanks to John Green and Hannah Hart.

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