Similar to the saying, “You are what you eat,” the creative writer often reflects the literature that they consume. Over the past year, I have not read an impressive or even adequate amount of poetry. As a senior in Ruth Asawa School of the Arts’ Creative Writing Department, I am tasked with creating a thesis. I decided last year, in my final months as a junior, that I wanted my thesis to be a novel. Since then, I have for the most part only read novels as a form of research. I was not actively avoiding poetry, but I was neglecting that side of my writing.
More than six months passed without me seriously sitting down and crafting a poem. On the rare occasion where I tried to don my poet’s hat, I was too much in my head and could not translate my thoughts onto the page. I had fallen out of love with poetry, when poetry was the genre that first introduced me to the craft of creative writing.
Going into the Creative Writing Department’s poetry unit, I was apprehensive. I feared that my poems would be too plot-based: all exposition and no imagery. My fears were confirmed. For the first week or two, my poems—in simplest terms—sucked. I wasn’t connected to anything I wrote. It was all word soup.
As I read more poetry, I hungered after writing poetry again. And, little-by-little, the prose started flowing. Finding motivation caused the shift. For every poem, I require some sort of exigence. Recently, emotion has been my kindling. As a senior, departure is at the forefront of my mind. I use the complex feelings related to leaving as the core of my poems. When I have a focused intent, I think less about the crafting of the poem and am instead swept into greater purpose.
Poetry still scares me, but now I have rediscovered the joy of finishing a piece. There is nothing quite like the thrill of crafting a perfect reflection of my emotions and thoughts.