There are so many closet poets – I was one for many years – who won’t come out and say they write poetry. There are a number of reasons for this; none that I’ve heard so far are good enough to hold. They are simply excuses. Here are a few…
I’m too busy
Yes, you are busy. I won’t take that away from you. But you can make time to scroll fifty screens deep on Facebook? Keep a notebook with you. Buy several notebooks if you must. Have one for your bedside, one to take with you wherever you go and a spare one, just in case. If you prefer to type your poetry, use an app like Evernote, or One Note – all of which are free. And whenever you have a minute, write a few lines down.
People will see me as weird
Trust me, everyone is weird. You know how you stick your fingers into the cake in the fridge and scoop it into your mouth like an ogre when no one is watching? Other people do that too – or have similarly strange when-I’m-by-myself behaviors. Writing and reading poetry is way less weird than any of these things – unless you write your poetry while you’re hand-scooping cake into your mouth…
I don’t believe I’m deep
So you’ve read all this poetry by Rumi, Kahlil Gibran and Benjamin Zephaniah and you think damn, I’ll never be this good. Yes, you won’t, because you’re not doing the work. You don’t need to write earth-shattering verses to be a poet. All you need is to, this will shock you, actually write poetry. Write those lines. Write them bad. Write them cheesy. Write them anyway. And read other poetry while you go about this journey. Lots of it. Meet with other poets. Listen to them, talk to them about how they write. Do these things and one day you will write a line so deep it will almost drown you in awesomeness. Then they will start coming with regularity. But first, just start.
I’m afraid of performing in front of crowds
There is this fear I’ve heard from some people of being one day made to read or perform their poetry in public. How do I break this to you? Ever heard about putting the cart before the donkey? Yup. That’s what you’re doing here. Put aside your fear of roaring success. You are called to write poetry? Then write poetry! You can worry about reading in front of hundreds of people when you get invited to actually read in front of hundreds of people.
I think poets are pretentious
Haha. I know. When you hear some people talk about poetry it’s like being a first-time wine drinker and hearing the wine woman tell you about the aromas and hints of spice in your merlot when all you can taste is bitterness. You don’t need to be like that person. Many people enjoy wine and have no idea why a particular bottle is good. Same with poetry. Just enjoy the process. Let it suck you in and spit you out. Over and over. Write poetry that makes you laugh and wonder, cry and grieve. Poetry is a reflection of life. Innately, there is nothing pretentious about that.
My friends won’t see me as cool
Off course if you’re walking around rattling off about “how charming Wordsworth is once you understand the context he was writing in,” your will lose listeners quickly among your friends and family. Don’t do that. Poetry is not about separating yourself from your peers and loved ones, it’s about understanding life, interpreting it in different ways and thus, bringing us closer to others. Anyone who does this is cool. If you can strive for this, to be a curious student and observer of the world and to try and bring this out in your verse, you will definitely get marks for cool.
Now go out there and write those lines.
I originally published a shorter version of this article on Medium.
Photo: If poetry is your happy place, go there…
by Artem Beliaikin