Prying It Loose: On Writing Poetry Again

Like many teenagers, I wrote poetry in high school. I cobbled together a journal from spare ruled notebook paper and a used binder, hand-sewing and gluing the spine. The pages were deckled (not intentionally) by my inability to cut straight. I filled this upcycled journal with confessions, story snippets, and poems.

I wrote far more fiction than poetry in the years between, but I indulged on occasion. I used to post Wednesday poems on this blog some years back. I’d mess around with metaphor and meter in my stories, but not to great effect. (Rhyme was always hard for me.)

Since my writing block last year, I’ve struggled to find ways to put words to screen. I practically reinvented my writing process twice, but that didn’t seem to fix things. Even blog posts have been difficult and sporadic, though to be fair my topics have been difficult, deeply personal, and met with a great deal of hostility.

Earlier this month, unsure of what day exactly, I started writing poetry again. The first poem was excruciating to write, like turning a rusty nut off a threaded bolt, but the threads caught and subsequent poems have been easier.

The Notes app on my phone is handy for short poems cobbled together during a lunch break. Writing anything so short in Word feels superfluous, and possibly counterproductive (I mean, I’d pick out fourteen fonts and styles if I had the opportunity, so better not to have that feature!) Using just my phone, I can jot one down before bed or out on a walk.

(As an aside, I finally bought a new laptop. Writing confessionals on a supercomputer feels deeply wrong.)

I’ve danced around why I started writing poetry again.


It feels safer expressing feelings in verse than it does on this blog, to be honest. And I don’t have the room to over-indulge, or to word vomit too much information.

I also like the notion of honing my craft at the micro scale. Writing SF has a unique challenge: allegory must be expressed in simile (i.e. “she was like a bird in flight”,) because metaphor (“she was a bird in flight”) could be taken literally. So I’ve gotten used to simile and more literal, precise language. But that creates a distance, and part of my skill has atrophied.

And, and ….

I hate the term, but poetry is self-care. Whenever I’ve read Mary Oliver, for instance, it has felt as though her poems were spells healing her old wounds. I wondered if the same could be done for me. So much of the past two years, and probably even longer than that, I’ve felt angry, wounded, bitter, and lonely. So much I couldn’t share, and still can’t, due to circumstances. But I can in metaphor and meter.

I doubt I’ll seek publication of any poetry I write, other than a poem here and there on this blog. Everything I’ve written is too raw (or in the case of one limerick, more like Vogon poetry than human!). This is only for me. I intend to be selfish with my words from now on.