I can’t remember WHEN I added this item to my bucket list. I know it’s been on there for a while. And I know that a week seemed like a really long time at the time to do something as ethereal and as ephemeral as poetry.
I wrote bad love poems in high school – they were all about the guy I liked. Then there was this other guy I liked, so I started writing poems about him. Oh, and another guy.
Well, the guys changed. Poetry stayed.
When I felt especially miserable, what came out was poetry.
I liked writing poetry in English – it felt like it had less rules. I can count the number of poems I wrote in Russian on one hand (one during my last visit).
In Russian, it seemed most poetry rhymed, and had this perfect rigid structure. I felt encumbered by that structure. Limited. Imprisoned.
In English… at first, I simply did not have the vocabulary to rhyme. Then, I just didn’t feel like it. Rhyming felt predictable – something you were supposed to do in poetry. So, fuck it.
For me, poetry was so tightly associated with wrenching pain and heartbreak that it took me a while to wrap my head around the fact that it could be different.
It could be fun and games, or stretching / warming up, or thinking out loud, or… anything at all. Like that time, I sat down and wrote a bunch of haikus about obstacle racing (“learn to write haiku” was on the bucket list). I felt silly and entertained, and playful.
So, after finding myself in an online writing class few weeks back, warming up by trying to model famous writers’ style and voice (and discovering e e cummings in the process), I surprised myself and walked away with two or three poems that I did not hate.
Like this one (modelled after this one):
Feel your skin vibrate. Your voice vibrate. Your very being vibrate with the joy of creation. Create.
Making something out of nothing – doesn’t this break every single law of physics? And doesn’t it feel intoxicating? Godlike?
Sit down, and write. Press your sit bones into the chair. Tight. Sing onto the page.
Close your eyes. Hum. Follow the pain from each nerve ending To the tip of your pen. No thoughts.
Each letter, each sentence. Your pulse is vibrating with words. Can you feel it? Just the single syllable: Yes…
So, I remembered this bucket list item: “write poetry every day for a week”.
All right. It didn’t say “write good poetry”, did it? And I have already written poetry on that one day that week. All I had to do was to write for six more days, and I’d be done. [“I would never have to do it again”, I added my magic words, to be sure].
The freedom of poetry, the lure, the permission – no rules, no rhymes, just images – tied together, or thrown loosely onto a page. Fictional or not. We never know.
Permission granted, my dear. You can, you are allowed. Go on, take a bite. Drink up.
You never need permission, But you have it. To waste paper. To chug red wine.
You can. You may. You are allowed. Yes.
In “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, Oscar Wilde summarizes it well – “I love acting. It is so much more real than life”.
Meanwhile, you should watch this video. Because, wow – poetry.