It will doubtlessly be noticed by you, loyal reader–and I do thank you for reading!–that I have included a fair bit of verse in this webspace. Those who click links I embed may even note that another blog I have long maintained, and that I occasionally threaten to incorporate into this webspace, is mostly poetry. Some may even note that I have a few poems published in various places–although I have not taken a creative writing class, or even a workshop, really. My training has been to write sober prose regarding the works of others, rather than to produce my own, although I do write things and have done so for a long while. (Whether any of it is any good is another issue, entirely, and one I do not want to address at the moment.) Why, though, is not necessarily clear to me.
I suppose that, in some sense, poetry is the most “art” form of writing; it tends to be perceived as being the most remote from people’s daily lives (if the words of my students and others are to be believed), and the most rarefied writings tend to be in verse (with the line as the primary unit of meaning) rather than in prose (with the sentence as the primary unit of meaning). I have tried to fancy myself an artist in one form or another for longer than is likely good for me; I’ve tried to be a musician, tried to draw. Poetry, I can kind of do; prose fiction…much less so. And essays…I don’t have the kind of cachet that makes my essays necessarily popular, although, again, I appreciate those of you who do read what I write.
In some ways, I write poetry (badly) to feel…daring? Artistic? Edgy, maybe, even? I am not an exciting person, as may be guessed; someone whose output is like mine is more apt to be sedate and stolid than particularly daring and compelling. It’s fine in one sense; I’m much less likely to get into trouble, doing what I do. But then, YOLO and FOMO and memento mori and all that, and I…spend a lot of time staring at a screen or at a book, pen in my hand or pixels proceeding from it. I’m…not all that interesting, myself.
Writing, though, I can maybe put something out into the world that is interesting, take a risk that is not so much of one but still feels it. Just as reading can be transportive, taking readers to other places and times than their own, writing can be daringly exploratory, letting the writer venture into unknown places and report back on what they find. The road out is not always straight or level; it sometimes winds strangely, passing by sights yet more removed, and the report of them must similarly be otherwise than straightforward. Maybe the verses I write do it some justice.