I have a confession to make. In fact, I have a few confessions to make. See, I’ve been writing poetry for around ten years. Before that, I wrote lyrics. Before that, I tittered down things now and again, grand ideas in my mind for the next great story, and surprisingly legible scribbles of unsurprisingly childish notions. Regardless, I’ve been fascinated with writing for as long as I can remember. I still have hope that one day I might not be half bad.
Herein lies the first confession: I never studied poetry. I’ve been in love with it for years now, but the closest I got to actual study was a creative writing class at university, an elective to distract me from my awful difficult degree, a journalism major.
Everything I’ve learnt has been from tripping over myself (hypothetically speaking). When I first started writing poetry, it was because I had a knack for writing in general, a capacity for words that I was encouraged to build upon. The first poetry I wrote was also dismal. I try not to look back on it with too much embarrassment, try to acknowledge that it was a necessary step on my path, but Jesus wept…
Still, some kind of switch got flicked in my mind after a couple of years, and I realised I could actually create if I was willing to put in the effort and focus. Herein lies the second (and not surprising at all for anybody who knows me) confession: I have the focusing capability of a tepid spoon. Poetry is something that demands focus and time to understand, to truly create, and to truly admire. It’s a common misconception that once you’ve read a poem, you should be able to understand it’s meaning; the difficult truth is that it’s not until you understand a poem that you’ll truly be able to read it. Poetry has to be a labour of love, in creation and consumption.
Herein lies the final confession: I used to loathe poetry. I had a teacher who inspired in his ideas on poetry, and I had a teacher who I wanted to impress with the ability to understand what she was teaching, but the concept of poetry for poetry’s sake was laughable. It’s taken a long, long time to move from abhorrence to desire, and it’s still a process of growth.
Over the last few months, inspiration for both reading and writing have been left wanting. Both the world at large and my own small world have changed tremendously over the last year and a half, and poetry has fallen somewhat by the wayside. But this is where I hope for things to pick back up. For a couple of years, I’ve had a book on my shelf, an instructional book on poetry by the great Stephen Fry. It’s been there waiting patiently for me, and I feel I’m finally in a place to give it the attention it deserves.
So, here’s the plan that hopefully won’t fall through after an hour: read the book; consider the book; do the exercises; write my learning experiences; eat cake. The last step I feel is a necessity. In fact it’s no leap to say it’s the basis for this exercise.
I reckon poetry will always be hobby over profession for me, but it really is a skill I hope to build. I love poetry. I would really like for you to love poetry as well. And I hope I might be able to scribble down some titter that can inspire the both of us. This is my final confession.