Why do any of us write poetry?
Specifically, why do I write poetry?
I use to be really sure about my poetry goals when I first started. I was going to go to grad school, maybe publish some books, possibly teach and do some globetrotting along the way. But like any wannabe poet who reads actual poets who have their shyt together, I spent more time questioning my abilities than using them.
Well written, well edited poetry can either inspire you or have you wondering why you wanted to be a poet in the first place. I rationalized my doubting by saying to myself even those who've been published had to start from somewhere; no one comes out of the womb with Strunk & White in hand. What I did most though was remind myself modern day bards move from poetry varsity to the pros by...wait for it ---> ACTUALLY WRITING POETRY.
Not sitting in front of a laptop waiting for words to swan dive off of eyelids onto a screen; or use journal pages for grocery list instead of the pulse of living. Yes, just like a job, writing poetry takes work.
Malcolm Gladwell studied the lives of extremely successful people to find out how they achieved success and came to the conclusion that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in any field.
I’m a few thousand hours short on practice, but I've definitely got em’ all beat when it comes to thinking about writing poetry, easily.
Aye, there’s the rub.
Nothing comes to sleepers but dreams.
A lot of us poetry folk are dreamers at heart; some better at dreaming than writing. We want to pimp slap oppression with stanzas, terza rima injustice and racism into oblivion; generally make the world a better place one metaphor at a time. I know I would spend so much time dreaming about words and what they could do, I occasionally forgot that writing them down was a big part of the process.
In my social networking life, I’ve seen what can be accomplished with the marriage of effort to practice. I have quite a few friends who’ve moved their writing dreams into the realm of reality with hard work and determination, which makes me hopeful about my future. Even though I may be a master at procrastination, I've never forgotten why I chose to write poetry; to connect myself to a world I always felt disconnected from, to make prayers visible and give voice to my imagination.
Even in times of doubt, when the question of why arises, I’m still enough of a poet to answer it with a resounding why not?