I don’t think of myself as a Writer, let alone a Poet. I have no formal training in writing and certainly none in writing poetry (it would be fair to say I barely understand the stuff).
That said, I’ve been writing self-directed content pretty consistently since I was in high school. By “self-directed” I mean writing things I wanted to write as opposed to things I was required to write, at first by schools, and then by jobs.
One reason I don’t think of myself as a Writer is that nearly everything I write is non-fiction of some kind — a lot of it technical writing. I wrote some stories in high school and some scripts in college but never felt a great desire to write fiction. On the other hand, the urge to express myself through writing is strong. (Blogging suits me wonderfully.)
[Not wanting to write fiction is actually kind of weird. Storytelling is a major interest of mine, and, being creative, it seems I would be drawn to writing stories. Yet I never have been. It’s even weirder considering I once saw myself as a filmmaker, and would certainly have written or adapted stories for film.]
Why I don’t write fiction is something to get into another day. This is about the other part of the first line, “let alone a Poet.”
I have no illusions my “poetry” is anything other than trite doggerel. Sometimes, often when I least expect it, some odd kernel pops in my mind and then grows into something that amuses me enough to keep. (There are garbage trucks full of ones I didn’t!)
Anyway, to start with, here’s a list of posts I’ve written about poems that caught my attention and really stuck with me over the years:
- To a Mouse (Robert Burns, 1785). Such a great poem — one of my all-time favorites. It’s a key statement about the human condition and contains the often-quoted line: “The best-laid schemes of mice and men go often astray.” (Sadly, it took me over a decade to get around to writing this post about it.)
- The Road Not Taken (Robert Frost, 1916) This well-known, oft-cited poem struck major chords in me. It became one of the guiding principles of my life: always seek “the one less traveled.” What’s funny is that the poem isn’t about what people think it is but the exact opposite!
- Invictus (William Ernest Henley, 1875) One of several poems I encountered (and adopted as lifelong companions) in high school English class. This is a serious poem about adversity, courage and staying your course.
- To His Coy Mistress (Andrew Marvell, early 1650s) What more can you say about a poem that exclaims, “Had we but world enough, and time,” then I would spend hundreds of years adoring each part of you. But we don’t (“at my back I always hear Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near”), so let’s get it on, baby!
- Desiderata (Max Ehrmann, 1927) This one was big back in the 70s, although then it was supposedly “found in St. Paul’s cathedral.” It’s a wonderful piece, filled with life advice that’s as on target today as it was nearly 100 years ago.
And without further ado, here are my own little efforts over the years:
This sat in my Drafts folder for eight years before I finally kicked it out into the world.
As is the case with most of my “poetry” it’s just a tiny slice of my life.
Women are Local; Men are Global
Speaking of weird, this piece is one of my stranger ones.
No one has ever asked about the secret hidden in the text, though. Either it’s too obvious or, more likely, no one cared. (It’s probably just as well that, in this fractious time, my posts about gender are almost entirely ignored by readers and trolls alike.)
This is a simple piece I came up with while taking a walk one spring.
Syntax & Semantics
Okay, so this one’s just weird.
It was the Overture and Postlude, along with some thoughts about syntax versus semantics, that I had as a possible post note for years.
It’s possible this one belongs less in a list of pomes than the Christmas one does, but my soft spot for it is what kept it in my notes all those years. Some stuff is just hard to throw away (even when you know you should).
This one maybe shouldn’t count since it’s yet another jam on The Night Before Christmas, and those are quite easy to do.
I wrote this one more deliberately than anything else here (except maybe the car one) since it was meant to celebrate being Freshly Pressed by WordPress. I’d been blogging for only about a year-and-a-half, so it was kind of a big deal to me.
Definite doggerel (but so was the original, kinda), but it’s actually a pretty accurate description of what happened.
You know how sometimes when you’re bored but also really not feeling like doing anything and your mind just starts playing with words…
My mind started doing a jazz riff on the “i-n-g” word ending and the common speech habit of droppin’ the “g”. That seed started to sprout, and it turned into four verses of silly that made me smile.
The formatting and punctuation are very important parts of it!
When the Dark Comes
This one rose from somewhere inside during one of those 3 AM can’t-sleep-life-sucks-what’s-the-point-of-it-all times.
A thunderstorm really did blow through that night (early morning), and the weather change paralleled my emotional change.
Most of my “poetry” is silly scratchings on paper, but I’m proud of this one. It says what I wanted to say, the arc of it works for me, and I still find it very evocative.
Sideband #19: LHC
This one popped out of my mind during an online party one night. It’s about the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) at CERN. Back then some were concerned it was going to destroy us all.
Hadrons are composite particles made of quarks, for example our familiar protons and neutrons, but also a number of exotic particles seen only in colliders. The poem, in terms of lines and syllables, has structure keying off the six quarks (up, down, charm, strange, top, bottom — the latter two were once called by some truth and beauty).
In the View of his Car
This actually was a writing assignment, albeit a voluntary one. A social site I once belonged to (Newsvine) had its own blogsphere, and one of the bloggers there used to do structured writing exercises for other bloggers. It was the usual of thing of ‘write a small piece given this topic or start or mode or whatever.’
I’m usually not one for that sort of thing, but sometimes he’d come up with something that caught my fancy. This one was to write a piece from the point of view of our car. Mine came out as definitely doggerel “poetry” but I think it’s pretty funny.
Stay poetic, my friends!