Essay, What I Learned, NaPoWriMo 2018
I wanted the 2018 edition of the National Poetry Writing Month to be a challenge to me. Last year I read some fine examples of poets dropping off their gifts to the readers, largely these skillfully crafted verses were satisfying, and some were otherwise. I could see the joy, their deliberate reckless abandon; I noted their skill and their unabashed demonstration of fortitude or maybe it was their sheer lack of self-respect. Those are my people.
I learned new (to me) poetic forms. That was part of my purpose. Some forms were ancient; some constructs were from around the world, and in the main largely unfamiliar to my normal. Some poetic ways were demanding and strict, even rigid—I tried them and to varying degrees had some success—and in some ways no so much elusive victory. In the case of getting close, or not, I noted my effort was ‘missing-the-mark’. In truth a confession but more like a deflection, for my own protection, because I didn’t aim for perfection.
Next, I wanted to prove to myself I didn’t need to be ‘in the zone’, or in-the-mood, or to wait as some empty vessel for the Muse to fill me if I were standing on the anointed street-corner at the stroke of midnight—although all of those are still true.
I have the ability to find (everywhere) what I didn’t think I knew (so I am a fool). I can form what I do know, and take what is a wild-ass-guess and fit this all into the skin, the format called poetry. Then by sifting, sorting, and throwing a whole lot of my gut into the effort I see and hear, after the re-write is finished (again), here’s a bright shiny new poem that has never existed since I began.
I wanted to reach the heart and the mind and perhaps show the soul an extraordinary light show. I dared my imagination to take off the shoes and dance in fields of clover without fear of bee-stings. I wanted to uncover my eyes to see life refreshed. I traveled through the path at the tip of my pen to places and times and feelings yet undiscovered.
And, then I discovered the additive effort (pleasure) of writing well. Accomplished writing was a huge goal I prepared prior to diving into this year’s challenge. To accomplish it I had to be brutal and humble to make poesy on my own terms and flip-side to accept what just came from “gods-only-know-where”. I weighed every line, each word, mood, tone, and tendril to make something honorable and for me to be true to the Art of poetry. And I had fun.
Having fun making solid poetic examples; leaving room for making slights to honored and true edifices, picking at the nose of the monolithic, with a trickster’s rag-a-muffin dis-respect, in other words I wanted to make poems funny, to exude humor, to put laughs on the menu so to speak. Being clever was never a goal but the action does confirm and indict the accused.
This last bit I feel is the most important sound bite. I could write all day. Type all night. Tear sheaves from giant rolls and waste reams of paper. Then, lock the poems away neatly in cigar boxes, secret, silent, dark on shelves in pantry and await a day when I’m long mouldering gone for someone, a miner, some cryptic delver, come to discover, perhaps to share the script and scrawl of mine with others. I might have been that way once, but not now, nope, no more.
I read once, “Forget about fear. It takes real courage to make a fool of yourself.” Poems (for me) aren’t for fame, or for “likes”, or as week-end-newspaper-review-adulation, or for honorable prizes (lofty offices), and not to get funky titles for my CV (my résumé). Poems are for people. The one’s like me who are so often wrong, but can be delightful in our failings.
If none of my goals and my lessons learned gets a tick mark, I know the last one did.
29 April, 2018