Friday, 4 March 2016

My (Brief) Time As a Poet.

In the Seventies my best friend was a poet, about to be published. Through him I met a gorgeous woman, also about to be published, who invited me to live with her. It only lasted a year, but during which time we went to many poetry readings and had writers over to our apartment, including her half brother, son of one of Canada's foremost poets. Despite all the verse swirling around me, I felt no urge to start stacking phrases vertically on the page.

Several decades later I found myself composing a poem in my head, wrote it down, and soon found a second one following it. I started going to a weekly reading series held in the corner of a bar, where I made a number of new friends. The poems kept coming, sometimes just a vague feeling that I had to explore to find out what it wanted to say. At other times some experience of mine provided the material, although I often felt uneasy, wondering to what extent I'd tampered with the details to serve the poem. Nevertheless I loved writing.

It was a time of wonderful poems and wonderful people. The poetry community in Toronto at that time was inclusive of all and every gathering was a celebration of our creativity. I was particularly pleased when I could perform from memory, or read something that made the audience laugh. Eventually over eight years I had about two hundred poems, and published a little chapbook. I was convinced that everyone should play with poetry.

Then it stopped. I kept trying to write but the poems fell flat. I think I had reached a certain level of ability and was stuck there. Perhaps I should have switched to a new style or a new challenge.

Recently I felt something inside trying to express itself and ended up with the best poem I've written in years. I hope that feeling comes again.

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