Sunday, March 17, 2024

Point of View

I can't remember how to write a poem, but I am going to have to remember fast because I signed up to take an online poetry writing workshop. The class is on points of view in poems. How so much can change when you switch from I to You. From You to He to She to They. Or sometimes there's even a We thrown in there, just to keep us all on our toes. 

I haven't written a poem in--(*quickly does the math)--34 years. But once upon a time I was working on an MFA in poetry. I loved it and was learning a lot. But then I panicked and quit, worried over how I would earn a living as a poet. Spoiler: you can't earn a living as a poet. Unless, you are Maggie Smith

who wrote one of my favorite poems, "Good Bones." But even Maggie Smith would probably tell you that she earns the bulk of her living not by writing poems but by speaking and teaching. But I digress. What I wish I could tell my twenty-two-year-old self is that it's okay not to have your entire adult life and/or your career trajectory figured out. That it's okay to play around with poems and finish your MFA program, maybe just for funsies, because how lucky are you to be able to spend your time reading and talking about words as if they matter and hanging around with people who feel the same punch in the heart when they read something like

For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.

For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,

sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world

is at least half terrible, and for every kind

stranger, there is one who would break you

Did I mention that the university was paying me to attend? They gave me a stipend to live on that was laughably small, but I made up the difference by waitressing at TGI Fridays and learned how to balance four beverage glasses in one hand and layer three large dinner plates up my outstretched arm. I pulled my long, permed hair into a bouncy side ponytail because a bouncy side ponytail seemed to earn me higher tips. 

That, and the black mini skirt and the bling-y buttons pinned to my suspenders. (Who am I kidding. It was the mini skirt. This was the 90's. It was a different world.) After work I let loose the side ponytail and scrawled out my poems and imagined myself in an Emily Dickinson-style cupola, tossing gingerbread out the window to the neighborhood kids.  

She was weird, that twenty-two year old. The ponytail. The precarious balancing of glass. Her naive belief in the power of words. See her hunched over her notebook, a blank page, a sharpened pencil, 

remembering what she forgot, readying to begin.



No comments:

Post a Comment