Yesterday, I completed GloPoWriMo, the worldwide celebration of Poetry Month in April. I am guessing that writing a poem a day for thirty days doubled my lifetime output of poetry. And what did I discover?
In the past, I turned to poems, rarely shared, when emotions pressed in so closely that writing poetry offered the only possible relief. In the rain-soaked winter of my first year in college, the lines I scratched in a green, hard-backed journal (a Christmas gift from my sister) carried me through a tricky emotional state after the boy I loved dropped out of the university and, hence, my life. I didn’t feel that any of that handful of poems were any good–though some had a rhythm I liked and one contained an image of mud-caked boots which I loved. But writing them helped me to, eventually, smile again, and fall in love again, and again.
During this past April, I didn’t write poems for emotional relief: I wrote them as a daily exercise. Surprisingly, relief came anyway. I feel happier and more resilient, and the act of writing poems contributed to this. It was a challenging month for us in a practical matter, as we went through a kitchen remodel. And personally, in terms of life themes, I faced a few challenges, too, as I dove deep into questions about my sense of self and the role of friendship in my life.
These themes both found resolution this past month. The discoveries I made writing poetry helped, and this practice also opened me to find resolution through other material I read. Writing the poem Identity cinched something essential in me to how I see myself and others continuing through shifts in form. And somehow, though I didn’t write much about my puzzles surrounding friendships, writing poems primed me for this New York Times article, Friendship’s Dark Side: “We Need a Common Enemy,” which has helped me understand that, while I practice friendliness and kindness universally, I tend not to do “friendship,” at least not in the way that article describes.
Poetry seems to affect my brain similarly to music–Bach, specifically. Fragments link up. Pauses gain significance. And a sense of wholeness, which, really, is what health is, seeps in.
So, I think I’ll keep up with the practice of writing poems, not daily, but, perhaps, weekly. The habit is good for my mental health.
And now that Poetry Month is over, a friend tells me that it is Short Story Month, which means A Story a Day. Dare I try? I think I will. Though I’m much more experienced in writing short fiction than poetry, I’m gifting myself leeway in what I post: expect short, rough, quick sketches, that may, or may not, fit the daily prompts. It’s an experiment to see how daily fiction writing compares to daily poetry writing.
And before I close, thank you to all who read my poems in April! You were kind and gracious readers, and I enjoyed sharing my lines with you!