#WorldPoetryDay: My First Poem + Thoughts on the form

Trev Top Ten 15

Me circa the turn of the millennium, give or take a few years.

It’s World Poetry Day! This is, it turns out, not to be confused with National Poetry Day and National Poetry Month. To switch things up, I thought I’d take a step back and not write something new and ceremonious but simply reflect on my history with the form.

The first poem I ever came up with dates way back to 1998, at the age of 6. My parents were driving me somewhere and, as I stared up into the night sky, a quatrain just popped into my head:

A star is a sun

Waiting to be free

For when I had wished on it for life

It had wished on me.

At some point, a dictated copy in gentle calligraphy ended up in a little frame on my wall—and that of my grandma, too, ever the keeper of memories. At times, on brief trips back home for rest and respite between my studies and professional to-dos, I pause at those pictures. I reflect on how far I’ve come as a writer, and how far I still have to go.

I’ve moved through many phases of poetry since then, from goofy sing-song odes to my hobbies, to song parodies, to morose romance, to (I’d like to think) making the most of that English degree with deft imagery and wordplay. While I’ve never produced enough–or experimented intensely enough–to honestly define myself as a “poet” foremost, I still hold poetry in high regard as the purest form of expression. Music may predate it in using rhythm to strike a mood and captivate an audience, but language–by design–truly bridges the gap between thinking and feeling. Yet while grammar and syntax are useful, nobody thinks or feels the way we write an essay, a speech, a memoir, or even a blog post. Ambition isn’t utilitarian. Fears aren’t logical. Hopes don’t stall for commas and paragraph breaks.

And poetry runs on a spectrum; infused in storytelling, it’s what separates a paperback thriller from a literary classic, or a rote screenplay from an award-winning script. You don’t have to see the line breaks to know they’re there–and conversely, you don’t have to hear consonance, assonance, or clever spacing for it to impact how you feel when your eyes scan the page.

It doesn’t have to rhyme, or even make sense at first glance. It just has to mean more than it says. That freedom can be as paralyzing as it is exciting.

I welcome the challenge.

 

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