Poetry Negative to Poetry Positive by Emilie Mayer

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.

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