Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm a Poet and I Didn't Know It

Ok I lied. I kind of already knew it. I used to love to write poetry when I was younger, and some of it wasn't half bad. But then as soon as I grew out of my preteen-angst years and became a well adjusted high school social butterfly, I found I didn't have as much to write about.

Well if it didn't completely shock me to find out Georgia Tech had a poetry program, I don't know what would. So, now I'm part of this kind of amazing poetry program at Tech, taught by this semi-famous poet, Thomas Lux (look him up! He's so talented: ), and I'm writing poetry again and turns out non-angsty me is pretty good at it too.

Now I know poetry evokes very strong feelings in people -- as in they either love it or hate it. I happen to have always been on the loving it side, something I credit to my scholarly father. For birthdays, Christmases, graduations and anniversaries, my dad always writes and gives poems to members of our family, along with the expected material gift. The amazing thing is, the poem often outdoes the jewelry, knick-knack or whatever store-bought gift is given. The true gift in my dad's poems is this: he can tell us through poetry what is so hard for him to say in person.

One thing I've discovered this year is that there is a huge leap from liking to read poetry to being able to write it. I've learned important terms such as the "dense thingness of poetry" and that you never get credit for what you don't write, meaning that no one will ever appreciate the fact that you cut a tacky cliche out in the third draft of a poem.

Apparently I've been doing my homework correctly though, because in the last class of the year, I read a poem I'd written just like any other class. And just like any other class my professor ripped it to shreds, but then something magical happened: he said that once I re-worked my poem, he wanted me to send it off to be published. Publish a poem? Me? I don't think I've ever been so excited to call my dad about something that happened in school. It even beat the time I found out I was going to pass computer science. 

So now I've started to collect some of my poems to be sent off and I'm being pretty secretive about it. Even though some of the greatest poets have been produced in the South, college students, members of the Greek community in particular (as in fraternities and sororities -- not the race of people), don't seem to appreciate the art of poetry. The most commonly asked question I get when people find out I'm taking a poetry class is, "Does it all, like, rhyme?" Heaven help them. 

Anyways, I've decided to sprinkle in a few of my own poems throughout this blog, along with the regular posts. Here is the one that caught my teacher's eye:


Pictures of curly brown hair, turned to grey, to white,
limp mink stoles with little claws and noses
still attached, miniature spoons that bounce light
off of their handles laden with roses.
All part of my grandmother's estate,
but it looks more like a junk sale. I watch
as people pick through it. My father shows up late –
it's hard for him to be here long – and sighs,
I remember that teapot. The young woman
promptly puts it down. I want
to say, It's not your fault. My father, angry
at ghosts, looks around at the goods. His gaunt
eyes betray him and I see it:
the dolls, the books, and his uncertainty.

Lesson Learned: "Poetry is what gets lost in translation." -- Robert Frost 

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