When I first came in contact with the Creative Writing Club or even became aware of its existence, the first thing I read off the blog was an inspiring post about writing poetry. I don’t remember who wrote it, but I surely do appreciate how she somewhat imitated that little axiom from Ratatouille with her own twist. Instead, of “Anyone can cook…” in Chef Gustave’s husky voice, she persisted with reserved and petite zeal, “Anyone can write poetry.”
I feel like C.S. Lewis, when he strained to remember who wrote the story, which inspired his The Great Divorce; he said, “I must acknowledge my debt to a writer whose name I have forgotten and whom I read several years ago…his hero travelled into the past: and there very properly, found raindrops that would pierce him like bullets and sandwiches no strength could bite…” I apologize to her, if she reads this, for forgetting her name, but I will never forget that “truism”, which really is still not bland of any flavor to myself, but is rich as a good Cold Brew.
At a time, I would come to doubt it, because I didn’t know what meter was, and meter is a central function to poetry and really, I mourned over all my past work, which I never wrote with an attempt to rhythm or musical affinity. I nearly cried at the idea, I wasn’t a poet. Its like telling a regressing Christian, “You don’t act like a Christian,” it absolutely stings! But, I remembered what that girl had written, “Anyone can write poetry…” and from there I realized I was a bit dramatic, really, I was and concluded I was in the tradition held by many other great American poets, in fact!–a tradition which was founded by an American poet, I’m proud to say: free verse.
And I kept with that. But back to the previous idea, I think that girl was right, sometimes poetry itself, even by great poets doesn’t sound too poetic or profound. Sometimes it sounds crass and strange, and oddly stifled. But, poetry is like every other art form, whether it be painting or cinema–there are many styles and forms and voices all intermingling and changing and blooming–poetry is not a definitive art form, to some extent. And poetry can be about anything, even “raindrops which pierce like bullets and hard sandwiches,” or the lizard I found in my tub, last week.
Artists have always been very opposed to being restrained or strictly classified or not being allowed to write about either the mundane or lofty; poets venture to anything: from flies to roses, to mothers to Nazis, to light bulbs to John Keats himself, to raisins to anyone, to everything to nothing, and back again.
Then there is that age old question, “Will they like my work?” It must be as old as literature and story telling itself, with its foundations in Genesis. Oscar Wilde roughly wrote (I’m paraphrasing), “There is no such thing as a bad or good novel. Just a well written or a badly written novel.” Now let’s extend it to poetry; Mr. Wilde, I agree and beg to differ at the same time. There maybe really no such thing as a good or bad poem. Simply, “They’re opinion and my opinion.” And even the worst of written novels or poems, are very much enjoyed by someone–someone out there likes the way it’s written.
However, that does not mean we should not mature or improve; I wish someone had been there to tell me, “Girl, your poetry sounds as prosaic as a rock!” No, I was told instead, it was like reading Planet Earth, the documentary, because of all my imagery. It was meant as a compliment.
Back on track, this past Winter Break, I read a book called All the Little Animals; it has become one of my favorites. I was surprised to find it failed as a book, to the extent, it has been out of print for years! The author is so little known, his Wiki page is only a few short paragraphs. Additionally, even its film adaptation with huge Hollywood stars like Christian Bale and John Hurt, and directed by an Academy Award-Winning Producer, is barely known to the public conscious.
The novel itself, received praises from literature magazines like the Kirkus Review, but really have you ever heard of it? I only knew of it because I like Christian Bale and I find that embarrassing, I only know of it because I was searching movies with that guy. But, that’s what I mean. Someone will like it and love your work, although its not raved by the masses. The mass public–society is a fickle thing, worse than a capricious woman, and is at times unsure of what is good and bad, whether it be morals or good literature. Come and tell me, why everyone knows about Anne Sexton, but know one does about Walker Hamilton, the author of All the Little Animals? I don’t think she is that great of a poet, really. But, see, that’s just my opinion. Really, Mr. Wilde, “There is no such thing as a good or bad poem or book; just they’re opinion and my opinion.” And circling back, on what that former Editorial Board member wrote years ago, “Anyone can write poetry…” if you don’t believe me, I’ll establish my credibility this way: Robin Williams said it in the clip below.
Walt Whitman is considered the “Father of Free Verse.” The Brits can keep Shakespeare, I think we did pretty well for ourselves in poetry, for being a rather young country. Though, they stole T.S. Eliot and that’s unforgivable–it cuts deeper than the War of 1812.
Prompts will published for the rest of the month to inspire YOU to write poetry. I’m obstinate in the fact. Whatever poem you write in response in one of the prompts, can be posted on the comments directly.