Recently, I wrote a poem.
For many people, this is not a big deal. For me, it’s the first I’ve written in a long, long time. Seriously, it’s my first since I was writing poems about listening to Lisa Loeb while crying over boys. (I also wrote one about a thunderstorm when I was in high school, but it contained the line “antithesis of justice and peace.” Yeah, I was a cool seventeen-year-old.)
I named the poem “My first poem.” Obviously this is a working title.
I do not know what to do with this poem. I hear one submits poems in much the same way that one submits stories (i.e., research some publications, submit, wait, wait, wait, try not to cry over the rejections, resubmit, etc.), but poets also get to do different things, like submitting multiple poems at one time. Unfortunately, I don’t yet have a poem called “My second poem.” I’m averaging about one poem every ten years right now, so I figure I’ll have a submission packet ready in thirty to fifty years.
I’ve showed my poem to one person. She liked it, but said the structure was very fiction writer. I don’t know what that means. What I do know is that line breaks are hard. I also didn’t capitalize the beginning of every line. I think I should get some sort of fiction-writer bonus points for this.
I don’t know what I think of my poem. When I worked with Willow Springs, the poems I liked most were the ones that got rejected fastest. I don’t know much about poetry. Poets often tell me I need to stop trying to “get” it, but I’m not sure what the opposite of “getting” it would be. Not getting it?
I was too afraid to take a poetry class in grad school, but I’ve been reading it since I left. My favorite collection so far has been one by Jacek Gutorow. It had been translated from the original Polish, and each poem was presented in both languages. I admit to spending almost as much time trying to learn a few Polish words as I did actually reading the poems. The author had also taken the opportunity to perform a few more edits, and I also amused myself trying to identify what they were. Okay, so maybe I liked the puzzle aspect of that collection as much as the poetry. It was, however, hearing a poem read aloud that prompted me to write my own poem.
Since I wrote this poem, I have worked exclusively on my fiction. I don’t feel any different, except I do like seeing a Poems subfolder in my larger Writing folder on my computer. It’s like I’m a secret poet, like I’ve snuck into a club to which I don’t belong.