Saturday, April 17, 2010

Reflections of a Poet's April Challenge

I love to write poetry. I am not particularly skilled at it, but I like to write it. I have been writing poetry since middle school. Seventh grade to be exact. I had to write a poem, so I wrote one about a cat and Mrs. Griep gave me an A+, and she even wrote positive comments on it. The last day of school, she gave me a thesaurus and wrote a note on the inside. She said something along the lines of: I can't wait to get a signed copy of your first book.

Wow! What a vote of confidence. I have never forgotten that little bit of encouragement. I don't have a published book yet, but I am working very hard toward that goal.

The poetry? Well, it's just fun. I don't have formal poetry training. But I love writing it anyway.

In February, I did the picture book marathon. I rose to the challenge and completed the marathon. But I didn't have to post my writings online. Thank goodness. Some of them are not fit for anyone's eyes. I have been working my way through some of the manuscripts with potential, one-by-one, to get them into better shape.

For this NaPoWriMo challenge, however, I have been posting my poetry online daily. I have about an hour to write. Not much time to eek out a good poem. I have been posting them though because I can't stand not  meeting a goal I set for myself. I have been drafting and posting. Each poem goes through 2-3 passes, at best. It feels sort of like letting someone read your diary. Some of the poems I've posted need LOTS of work. I may rewrite them many, many more times before they would every see a real published page. I was feeling sort of strange about the whole thing--sending out my poem "drafts" for the whole world to see.

Then I read this article about poetry by Janet Wong in Hunger Mountain. She is truly one of my favorite poets of all time. I relate so well to her poetry because she has written about living between cultures so honestly. I have written a lot of my poetry about being an American kid living overseas and feeling like I was also between cultures.

Her article discussed how she wrote after her child went to bed at night (ditto) and felt like she couldn't produce anything worthwhile (ditto), but she sat at that computer every night (ditto) and did the best she could to draft some poems.

She talks about how much she has written compared to how much was actually published, but the poems that weren't published were still valuable because they were PRACTICE. They made her better.

So cheers! To practice! Thank you Janet Wong.

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