...quiet, about a lot of things...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Why I Stopped

I've been reading over at some others blogs to see what they have been doing...Some are doing this interesting mirror meditation thing...Don't have the courage for that, just yet. But several have talked about things that this exercise brought up for them. Some talk about Poetry Thursday the same way... Mobilizing tons of feelings. Cool. Which leads me to:

Why I Stopped Writing Poetry

I have written poetry since I was probably 6. My grandmother died when I was in 3rd grade...and I know I wrote a lot after that. I had a cool 6th grade teacher who introduced me to haiku. She was the first teacher to praise me for my writing. I was a good student. But she had called me a gifted writer.

I wrote all the way through high school..all girl Catholic school. We had a great English dept. We had our own literary publication...I wrote a lot for that. I wrote silly love poems, about partying with my friend, about summer and the cruel world. I had lots of teachers praise me then. I wrote for the yearbook. I wrote a poem that I read at the Memorial service for a girl..whom I was "ok" friends with. She had died of anorexia...well..really of cardiac arrest from taking laxatives and having no potassium in her body. She died in her mothers arms. I read this stupid 17 year olds poem, at her service..and then we released balloons into the air. I would write a different poem of that scene now,(perhaps I will) but I did the best I could back then.

I wrote through college (the part I finished) and through boyfriend after boyfriend. I wrote copiously when I lived in NYC and had platinum blond short hair...and wore a rhinestone dog collar around my pointy black beatle boots.I wrote of coming home to Southern California...and then moving to San Francisco.

And in San Francisco I stopped writing poetry. In a neighbor hood south of the Haight I became a mother. I can't say I was prepared for this. I was never really prepared for anything. I just knew that I needed to start living a more "normal" life. Sylvia Plath had been an early hero. Now, she scared the hell out of me. With a baby inside me, I know longer wanted to suffer for my art. I didn't want to wrestle demons like Sylvia any more. I was afraid I'd lose. I knew I couldn't afford to lose.

A couple nights before my wedding I wrote my last poem for a while. I showed to my husband, who is an engineer...and he said it sounded sad. My mother had always said the same thing about my writing. Why did I write such sad poems...why couldn't I make happy poems?? I put that white dress on and marched down the aisle to happy poems.

I did write a poem for my girls wall..which I stenciled on their pale yellow walls. They were in first grade (rach) and preschool (mags). I think it went something like this:

A kiss to send you off to sleep,
A hug to hold the dreams you keep.
A smile to send you on your way,
Greatness grows in you today.


People, including my in laws..asked me who "that great quote" was by?? I would say I wrote it...and they were in shock. The poet in me was slipping out. I should have said Beatrix Potter or Dr. Seuss. That's the last thing I wrote..for a long while. Why? Because POETS are UNSTABLE. I was a mom...with a job to do.

So ten years later, here I am with this silly little blog...and I have found passion again. I have found the song inside my soul again. It pours out of me, and I drink it in from others. I still have trouble with HAPPY POEMS...and probably always will. But it doesn't scare me as much. I look at it all so differently now. I admire so greatly the young moms who have "one hand Typing". They are so much braver than I was. I learn from the grand moms, and the men who write too.

Like a long lost lover, my poems, in the hair and eyes and hands of my muse, have returned. They are so forgiving. They don't even ask me why I stopped. My muse leans over, and whispers in my ear.. I grin and begin again.
posted by wendy at 8:25 PM

5 Comments:

It's so sad when the writing voice gets silenced. And when the voice begins to whisper - oh, it's just the best feeling in the world.

8/18/06, 9:59 PM  

That is so beautiful Wendylou! Wow! I know what you mean about the 'poet' persona being a bit of a scary one and not conducive to nurturing - esp Plath - but we learn there are many levels to us - and all operating at the same time! It's allowed! Have fun with your muse - is it a he? or a she? I don't think I've got one - if I have, I believe it's a bird! or a plane ... (Definitely not Superman anyway!)

8/19/06, 9:31 PM  

Hmmm so many thoughts came up while reading this....it seems you have found an answer or come to a good place so why should I try to explain?

I guess I am in awe that you had this wonderful tool to get you through those years that I found so challenging-I too lived in new york after high school-I really could have used poetry to relieve some of my angst.

I too have an easier time writing about "sad" things, maybe because it is such an amazing tool to use to process it all.
I too have found the poems have not been banging to be written these past few weeks-since I have felt more positive. But it isn't because I feel poetry signifies unstableness-more that they just aren't flowing. So I wonder now more than before I read your post. Why did they stop flowing?

I love the quote you wrote for your girls room and that you put it on their wall where they could see it large and clear.

I am happy you are writing again-I so enjoy it.

Love to you

8/20/06, 6:55 AM  

Happy? Sad? When a poem is real, it's a poem. I'm so glad your poet-soul is finding a place to be in the world. I came here from the "pet post", but had to comment on this one.

8/20/06, 1:26 PM  

I've said this a lot recently, but it's never too late to be the person you were meant to be. Don't think about what kind of poems you want to write, just do it.

8/20/06, 7:46 PM  

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