Poetry Month: Why Poetry? My Poetry Journey

poetry month kitty

Sorry for the crickets guys. I’ve been swamped with school, and I was going to try to do this as a vlog before posting a text version, but my laptop decided to thoroughly f*** itself so I don’t know when that’s coming.

computer

WHY YOU NO WORK

It doesn’t take an English PhD to figure out that poetry is nowhere near as popular as fiction. Pretty much everyone’s read a book or a comic or seen a movie outside of school, but I’ve rarely met anyone who can name a book of poetry off the top of their head. Most people studied poetry in school, hated it, and stopped. This, in my humble opinion, is a damn shame. Poetry is a medium that transcends time and space and the human condition in a way superior to fiction.

My mission this month is to get at least one new person to give a crap about poetry. So I’m going to tell you why I give a crap about poetry.

baby kitteh

And also cats

I have to admit, fiction was my first love when I was growing up. I didn’t have an opinion on poetry. I liked most of the poetry my teachers read to us in school, but it never blew me out of the water. My teachers tried to teach poetry writing, but I thought acrostic poems were dumb and shape poems were worse. And that was ALL WE LEARNED. I guess my teachers (maybe correctly) thought we were too young to understand more complex forms of poetry. I didn’t write poetry outside of school. It was just another thing I did at school, the worse kinds of thing in the mind of a seven year old. Two books changed my views on poetry; one was Sharon Creech’s free verse poem novel thing Love That Dog and the other was T. S Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

I really hated Love That Dog the first time I read it. I had never seen anything like it. In my mind, it wasn’t even a book. I think it was my age, but I had no idea what was happening in the book the first few times I read it. But I received the book as a gift, and as a child gifts from my relatives were sacred. I kept it in my massive bookshelf and read it whenever I happened upon it. It wasn’t until probably the tenth time that I finally got it. It was poetry, that stupid, boring thing I studied at school! But it couldn’t be. It didn’t rhyme, and it didn’t look like anything. And it was a story. What? It was like whoosh. I finally got it. And I read it over and over.

Practical Cats was another story. I was obsessed with cats as a kid. Everything was cats. All my stuffed animals were cats. I drew cats. I wrote cats. I dreamt cats. That’s right. I loved cats before the internet decided it was cool. My mom took Practical Cats out of the library and I was in love. I think I made her read me the poems over and over until she got sick of it and then I just read them myself. I read that book so many times that I can still smell the pages and see the cute little ink drawings in the margins.

I started to write cat poetry.

That’s where it started.

teen kitteh

The teenage years got a bit more…angsty. I’ve talked about my wasted youth before. I think it’s a given that I wrote bad teenage poetry. It’s not like I didn’t have real angst to write about, but that doesn’t mean my poetry was any better. Let’s be real here.

But it was never about being good.

I started cutting when I was eleven. Describing why you cut to someone who doesn’t is impossible. The only thing I can think of is that I had so much pain inside that I couldn’t deal with that making myself hurt on the outside was a relief. I couldn’t find a way to describe the emptiness. So I wrote poetry about it. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I wrote to figure out why I was cutting. I wrote to show other people how I felt. I wrote because I had to get it out. Eventually, I was writing instead of cutting.

I know lots of people talk about music saving them, but poetry saved me.

If you do something enough, eventually you become better at it. I started sharing my poems. People started to like them. I thought hey, I might actually be good at this. I submitted poems for publication, and I was accepted. At fifteen I was published in NewTown Writers Off the Rocks 15. I was published at the same level as adults.

Whoa, I thought. Time to start taking this seriously.

UPDATE: Now with added vlog!

 

5 thoughts on “Poetry Month: Why Poetry? My Poetry Journey

  1. Pingback: Poetry Month: What Poetry? | Kelsey J. Mills

  2. Pingback: Poetry Month Wrap-Up: What Worked, What didn’t | Kelsey J. Mills

  3. Pingback: Best of 2015 | Kelsey J. Mills

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