Poetry and That Dark Place

My old license plate read: POET.

Driving around was always a pleasure–everyone would speak with me at traffic lights and say they were supposedly a poet, too; or, could I recite a poem to them (as if I always had one prepared to recite). It was quite humorous and a great conversation starter.

I’ve always considered myself a poet before anything else. Poetry came to me with ease. By the time I graduated from high school, I lost count of how many times I had a poem published. But I estimate it at 30+.  Poetry was my therapy. I could emote. I could manipulate words in such a way that something normally disturbing would turn beautiful. Writing poetry was like completing a jigsaw puzzle–it took time, yet brought a sense of pride once completed.

As many young poets, my poetry started as cryptic confessionals, seeking acknowledgement or to fulfill a void from my childhood angst.

It was my voice and just as obscure as I was at the time. But it was good. I was good. Writing was the only thing that I was confident about. There were many other friends I associated with at the time who were poets, good poets, probably as good or better than I was at the time. But I had the drive. It was a hobby for them. And, for me, I saw it as a vehicle for a career and it was simply a way to have cheap therapy.

Everything I learned, I learned from Sylvia Plath.

Plath, too, was confessional and raw with her words. She was refreshingly unapologetic. She made it okay to say “fuck” in a poem if it were needed; and she made it okay to damn those around you, even supposed loved ones. She made it okay for me to be me and give zero fucks. She made it okay to reflect on my life and express it with twisted art. And, many years later, I’m remembering this.

Yes. I forgot how she caused me to reflect and take myself to this dark place that, at times, I couldn’t get out of. Poetry was therapy, but I also needed therapy from poetry.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a poem. However, I’ve written tons of short stories, also poetic in their own way–but not really poems. Poetry is different. During National Poetry Writing Month, I’ve attempted to write one poem per day for 30 days. As such, it’s been difficult; not difficult because I forgot how to write poetry or because I simply have nothing to say, but rather because I can’t write happy or general poems. Poetry to me is reminiscent of something personal, something attached, and something not pleasing. I have a process for poetry writing that I dare not share. But I will mention, I have to bring myself to that dark place–the place we try to avoid. And I forgot how difficult it is to get out of that place–the doors lock on me and I work for days or weeks to get out. I forgot how lonely it is there. I forgot that it’s a place that gave me solace and gave me fear, alike. It’s a place from which I’ve grown away, yet I can still appreciate. It’s a place that was dedicated to me and helped me grow in so many ways.

So as a writer I, too, must dedicate time in this dark place to grow and to express. I should not let it be years that pass before I write a poem. It should be on a regular basis. I must also appreciate this dark place; this place in which my thoughts are examined and creatively immortalized onto a page.


About Stephen Earley Jordan II

Author of "Beyond Bougie", "Cold, Black, and Hungry" and many other books. www.StephenEarleyJordan.com
This entry was posted in Literacy, NaPoWriMo, poetry, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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