A Reflection: Manufacturing Poetry

I knew I couldn’t do it. But I tried. I tried my damnedest too.

April was considered to be National Poetry Writing Month with the goal of writing one poem per day. I couldn’t do this.

During this past month I realized that I was writing mostly poorly crafted poems simply to fulfill a task. It reminded me of the brainstorming sessions in college when I was studying writing and a professor would tell me I had 30 minutes to write a poem about a specific topic. I couldn’t do this.

That’s not what poetry is about. Poetry has never been about manufacturing words for the simple sake of completing an assignment or fulfilling the need of someone who requested it. For me, poetry was something special and private and derived from a small spark of hope that I could live to see another day. I never shared poetry until I knew that I had massaged the words long enough that it dripped like butter from one’s mouth when uttered; that my words, whether one or seven syllables, would flow from a palm like salt water–leaving a slight residue behind.

When I started April’s goal, I had already convinced myself that I would not complete it successfully. I knew that I couldn’t write a poem on-demand, let alone write 30 of them in a month. Poetry is cathartic for me–it helps me cope with uncomfortable things; poetry preserves my sanity and extinguishes the fires in which my demons thrive. Poetry has always been there when I didn’t feel it was appropriate to say what needed to be said. Poetry was dedicated to me. It still is.

But what this past month did give me was a moment to write and to practice and to reflect. During this time I forgot how much I loved poetry because poetry has been around longer than friends and lovers and has always consoled me when I needed. I forgot that to write poetry you needed to practice on a regular basis–the ability to manipulate words and tell tales isn’t something everyone can do, though many do claim writing (primarily poetry) is something easy and that they can do. The arts is not easy despite the constant claim. If everyone could create art, then it wouldn’t be art. So I’m thankful for this past month.

During the past few weeks, I have created a few poems I’ll call “skeleton poems”; poetry with some great bones that I can add some meat to, give them heart and a soul, and eventually breathe life into and then share again once I feel things are truly in place.

I always tell my peers that we make time for the people and things we truly want to make time for. Anything less is simply an excuse. I spent the past few years writing short stories and neglected my poetry writing. But it feels good to be back. It’s like welcoming an old friend back into your life, but you need to catch-up first and fix any of the rough spots before you can move forward.

This has been an awakening. I can’t manufacture quality poems on a daily basis as this assignment required. But my efforts were there. Above all, I always like a good challenge and it sparked my interests to dedicate myself more so to the poetry than I have in the past.

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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 Inspiration, Literacy, NaPoWriMo, poetry, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A Reflection: Manufacturing Poetry

  1. Doug says:

    I don’t think anyone every really does it….that poem a day for April thing. I’ve played at it for five, six years, and word sling about 25 or so, counting March spring training word slinging…and unlike your poetry, my poems (?) have no bones as they have no plinth…more like pocket litter, they are, connoting what’s caught my attention… what I like about poetry is how differently folks approach it…

    Stay well
    Regards,
    Doug

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