The King’s English Bookstore
The first time I entered the quaint bookstore was with the intent to meet up with a newly discovered writing group. I sat next to two women I had decided were going to be my new best friends. That is until they pulled out their poetry. Ugh! My eyes rolled.
After the meeting, the small talk began. My two distant acquaintances approached me and welcomed me to the group. As we chatted, one of them made an off-hand comment, “One of these days we’ll have you writing poetry.” I politely smiled, but in my head….Yeah, that’ll NEVER happen.
I had no interest in poetry, thought it was pretentious, obscure and took way too much effort to try to make sense of. Just say it! Why hide the meaning(s)? Tell me a story; a clear, to the point, understandable story!
But after being inundated with poetry – once a week for 4 years, I found my self becoming curiouser and curiouser and the closed mind began to creak open. Sometimes, I even allowed the thought, that I could be making poetry harder than it needs to be, rumble around instead of swatting it away.
I sat silently, week after week, my face a blank, as my writing compatriots read their poems about the intricacies of a leaf swirling down a drain, the sensuality of preparing risotto and historical recollections of an abusive father narrated in admiration. I came to realize that I too had stories to tell, things I wanted to say, ideas to convey. But these things, if written in a large story, would dissolve. No one would even know they were there. How could I convey my ideas and make them be heard and understood?
Many, many evenings later, while we, the writing group, recited our stories around a dull light, something happened which caused me to want to push my prejudice aside, stop standing on the side-line and join in. This tiny moment of ten very different people, coming together, sharing the same space and lifting one another needed to be recorded. I would do that in a poem.
I would like to suggest that the reason I went against my belief of poetry being a loathsome thing is because… I was put under a spell. It’s true. You see it was one of those inspiring nights when the imagination and creativity were flowing through all of us as we sat bunched together, in the small living room of one of our member’s homes. The lights were dim with only a fireplace to read by as we snacked on cheese and nuts and tea, (don’t ever forget the tea in this group.) By the end of the night, my defenses were down. I could no longer resist. And so at midnight, I drove home with this, my first poem swirling in my head.
The Writing Group
I sit with mind alterers, bamboozlers, mesmerizers
They tell stories, wax poetic
The narration begins
the ghost of a dolphin swims into the room
it jumps, then dives
the story concludes
the dolphin exits
its eternal smile
rests upon us all
long deceased appear
Staring lovingly upon their child
taking his turn at an ode to his past
7 colors of a sunset blaze in the desert sky
our source of light
in a dim room
A bejeweled lifeless beetle
swirls amidst water and leaves
until it disappears down its bygone drain
A man named JC
Coffee drinking bears
Porcelain talking dolls
Trying to find the lines
crossing in, out and around the lines
Each reader creating their picture
Their original work of art
Strangers revealing their most intimate parts
Dogged by a whispering, unsettling voice that demands
For you are unfulfilled unless!
After my first piece, I repented heavily of my stubborn ways. I discovered that writing poetry actually helped me define my writing into a more compact form. It’s amazing! I’ve discovered it actually tells a story in half the time of any other type of narration. Uses much more depth, more meaning, more visuals and can do it as if it were a song.
When my poem was on paper, and when I could do no more, I read it to the writing group.
While reading, my voice didn’t shake, nor did my hands, I just couldn’t breathe. Literally, I could not catch my breath. And then, because my nervousness was so obvious, it made me even more self-conscious/nervous.
I don’t know why I was so nervous. Well, actually, I do. In regards to poetry, a couple of women in this writing group are frikking amazing. Actually, they’re all really good with poetry but one woman in particular. Her writing is so amazing that she received a grant for a poetry study with someone, I think he was a Poet Laureate, don’t ask me for details. It’s poetry. I wasn’t following it at the time. I just know it was something/someone big because when she announced her prize, the room filled with gasps and aww’s. I went with it.
Because I was so new to the experience of poetry, and those in the room were so advanced, I worried how my poem would be received. It was so simple in comparison to theirs. Would they call me out? Laugh at my lame attempt? Give me a condescending pat on the head?
At the end and to my relief, they didn’t call my bluff. They didn’t laugh, and in fact, they were very kind and gifted me with high praise. I’m not sure if the praise was given because the poem was about them, or they feared my, ‘just short of having a panic attack’, nervousness would turn into a full on ambulance ride, or, if they just liked it. I decided not to over analyze and go with the latter.
So to make a short story very long, I wrote in the previous blog about how some writings speak to me as if requesting a response. Below is my response to those writers/bloggers of poetry, artists of the written word whose works speak to me.
A Writing Review On A Poet Laureate By…A Person With No Writing Authority Whatsoever.
Thank you Billy Collins
I picked up your book at the library.
The one with the black bear on the cover.
A friend from my writing group suggested it.
He is a writing genius so I could not doubt.
I’ve never really liked poetry. Too flowery,
too clouded in obscure words,
meanings so deftly hidden that one cannot understand them
without a book of translations.
Often too dark, too hopeless,
she doesn’t love me, the world is a cruel place,
I shall kill myself ‘
As I said, I picked up your book and began reading.
My excitement bounded from heart to head
from lips to eyes as I perused through.
Your writings are simple!
I don’t mean kindergarten simple, rather concise, clear, understandably simple.
I found myself smiling, often.
Sometimes, the smile was from the joy of reading your poem,
other times, simply from the joy of being able to actually follow a poem.
Your stories; so intimate, personal, revealing so much about you, your day.
It made me think I knew you, that I too would enjoy sitting out in my garden,
the sun pleasantly shining down upon me
while enjoying a book of poetry from long ago.
I shut your book, lost in your pleasant scene.
But the Bumblebees caught my eye as they buzzed around the Black-Eyed Susans;
the hummingbird distracted me as well, as it zipped past my head
on the way to a delicious meal of Zinnia nectar.
Then the vision was lost. I looked around, back in my world,
no blue hydrangeas here. And no one who would actually enjoy
a thick book of poetry about stone walls with no windows.
Ah, I had been mesmerized.
But wait, I said to myself.
I often misinterpret poetry, reading along thinking
it’s a story about a wonderful mountain scene when actually
it’s a story about the death of a new bride
or something completely dark and opposing.
Was I misinterpreting your writings as well?
Was the dry humor actually condescending observations
made by a man who thinks too highly of his ability to put words to paper?
I’m sure you’ve heard of men becoming that after a time of too much fame, too much praise.
The last thought could only be fleeting though as I reread
and as I rediscovered that indeed,
your writings were simply what they were.
With my expression of why now explained,
I end with the intent of this writing in the first place
which is to thank you.
Thank you for giving me the gift of the joy of reading poetry.