The Problem with Poetry

Problem_with_poetryPoets gets me in trouble.

First, it was all because of Poe. At thirteen, I obsessed over his gorgeous, grand lines. Safely ensconced in my playhouse with the door firmly closed against eavesdropping sisters, I recited his poems aloud over and over again. The imprint of some of these remain forever etched on my soul,trapped behind my teeth for instant recital.

I dwelt alone in a world of moan and my soul was a stagnant tide.

How deep! How dark! How profound!

Determined to be as great a writer as Poe, I labored to add such depth to my adolescent writings. When my language arts teacher projected an image of a girl looking out her bedroom window at a crow and told us to write about the picture, I felt the gods had smiled upon me. I knew exactly what to do. I was prepared. I was going to deliver the most profound piece that would win my teacher’s adoring awe.

Instead, I won myself a trip to the school counselor’s office. I remember I wrote something about how the crow was all there was, and all else in the universe was dingy, depressed death. (Oh, alliteration, how I love thee!)

My trouble deepened in college, when we would sit in seminar dissecting some famed poet’s piece on gender identity, or privilege, or patriarchal pandering. Twenty students in the circle, twenty interpretations, yet one professor with the “truth” of the meaning. I read too many bad poems. I heard too much theorizing complex meaning out of trite sentiment. I didn’t understand.

I scribbled a trite poem capitalizing on all the clichés I’d heard all quarter and received highest praise for my work. Screw that. Poetry is a sham. I’m done.

How grateful I am for the poets that brought me back to the light, or the darkness, depending on the piece. How grateful I am for Kay Kinghammer.

Kay Kinghammer writes with me every Friday morning at my Daylight Writers group. She started showing up a year ago, a friendly grandmother type with tight white curls and appliqué sweaters. Sweet enough, but easily dismissed, like so many poems of my past.

Oh, but Kay could write! When she chose to read her work at group, I would snap to attention. Here were lines that purred, that prowled, that crept up my spine, that occasionally rhymed! Here were lines I wanted to say again, with my own voice.

Down by the river in the dark,

I drifted with the water’s soft splashes,

I quivered with the rustling of bushes.

Hidden in the warm summer night

All the uncles, kids, and cousins,

Like so many peas in a pod.

Kay began her writer’s journey late in life, the part where she put the words down on paper anyway. She was busy, go-go dancing, falling in love with questionable men, attempting a Gypsy life of travel, raising a son. Years pass so quickly. Now she lives in Seattle with her Grandson. She takes the bus wherever she wants to go. She doesn’t own a laptop. She wears silly sweaters and comes to writing groups in coffee shops where she reads lines pulled from her past and captivates a room of caffeinated strangers.

Kay needs our help.

She was invited to debut her book of poetry (The Wenatchee River Anthology) at the Fermoy International Poetry Festival in Ireland. You may imagine, this is a very big deal for an emerging poet from Wenatchee. Living on a fixed income, there is no possible way Kay can afford a plane ticket to Ireland. This is where we come in.

Writers are wonderful people. I have received a great deal of support from my community. Now I ask that we direct some of that support in monetary fashion towards Kay. I’ve helped her launch a Kickstarter to raise the funds she needs to publish her book and get to Ireland. Please become a backer now.

I think of the dreams I have, how deep inside me some creature calls out her aching desires, how I would fly if that creature were freed. I think of your dreams. I think how incredible it is that we can have so much impact on one another’s lives.

We can make this happen for Kay. Please join me as a backer of The Wenatchee River Anthology.

Become a backer now.

 

Use your words. Comment here.



ineffablespeech

5 years ago

Your writing is inspiring! I love where you describe your friend as: “She wears silly sweaters and comes to writing groups in coffee shops where she reads lines pulled from her past and captivates a room of caffeinated strangers.” While reading as a poet myself (or I so like to say I am), I began to fear that I may be drifting to what you say is bad poetry. Please could you read (if the time awards you) some of my own poetry and tell me if I’m heading in the right or wrong direction? You may find one at my blog: ineffablespeech.wordpress.com Your comments, advise, and criticism are much welcolmed and appreciated 🙂

Kelsye

5 years ago

One word after the next is always a word in the right direction. Keep writing, poet.

Bard from Ballarat (@thebardfromball)

5 years ago

I love hearing how poetry affects someone in such a personal way. Poetry is meant to be experienced not dissected.