I write poems occasionally. They’re pretty good, though I haven’t tried to get them published for ages.* Inspiration comes from little moments: a reflective thought while out walking, a life event, a provocative artwork. I imagine this is how it works for most people.
I read an article today in which the writer used the phrase, “a parody of narcissism,” and that was one. I thought to myself, Let’s give it a try.
[record scratch sound]
The sentence didn’t sit right. I knew success wasn’t guaranteed, but the idea of trying struck me as laughable. I wasn’t entirely sure why, so here we are in a blog post.
I’m writing the poem right now, in a Google doc. As more occurs to me about this topic, I pop back to this draft and add things. For example:
It will be a poem. It will either be a good or a bad poem, but it will still be a poem. When they are bad, I sometimes let them sit, with the idea that I might come back to them.** So who knows?
Maybe for me, writing a poem is always only beginning to write a poem, and that’s enough. Even when something is complete, it’s part of a longer story, a continuum: that “body of work” that stays a mystery until we stop working, or glance back and discover the shape our questions made.
* I’ve been exploring the idea of the found poem—a single poem presented, or “published”, in a mundane context. So far, I’ve had them digitally printed to cotton bandanas and folded them into a matchbox.
** When I’m being patient, I let the good ones sit, too. Because a day or two beyond “done” often gives me the space to make them better.
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