31 August 2015

Why I Am Unqualified to Write Serious Poetry

This past weekend I went to the League of Utah Writers fall writing conference.

I go to lots of conferences, but this is a first for me. The general consensus has been that this conference does not measure up to the others in the state. I'm happy to report that this is not the case. Not this year, anyway.

When I go to a conference, I usually look at the special things they're doing. In the past it has been the ones you have to sign up for that have really helped me. During my first Boot Camp at Storymakers, Lisa Mangum blew my baby writing mind wide open. And she was so nice about it! One year at CONduit I signed up for a manuscript review by a couple of local authors, as well as a first 13 line critique from a lady who looks stark raving mad, but is a writing genius. I was terrified, but I leaned a lot. And one year, Dan Wells finally explained passive voice to me. Bless him.

While signing up for the conference (which I decided to do last minute) I noticed they had a 3 hour poetry workshop.

Now, I'll start by saying that I don't love poetry. The teachers I had in school always drew these deep, often confusing and befuddling meanings from just a few lines of text.

Seriously, since when does the limp bag of a vacuum cleaner represent lung cancer? What if I say it represents the fact that they have dirty house? Maybe they haven't cleaned their dirty mind out for a while. Or maybe, just maybe, it doesn't mean anything.

Yes, yes, I realize I may offend a few of my friends who do, in fact, love poetry. Sorry guys.

So the instructor for this workshop was great. The class was wonderful, actually. I learned a lot of things about poetic writing and using the senses to an extreme I'd never considered before. We talked about how connections or disconnections are what cause emotions and that's where many people draw their poems from.

All of that stuff was awesome.

The instructor read a beautiful poem that she has published, and I thought the imagery was lovely and deep and conflicting and awesome. And then she pointed out that it was actually about her and her sister getting molested by a neighbor.



Sure enough, I read it again and found the clues.

Others in the group picked up on it the first go around.

Now I'm not actually dissing poetry, nor am I making light of abuse in any way. But to “Get it” is it required to have had some serious childhood trauma that you'll never recover from?

(That might be the offensive part, sorry.)

This is why I'm pretty sure I'll never be qualified to read or write serious poetry. I haven't been through nearly enough trauma.

Which I'm fine with, by the way. Totally fine.

The workshop had us draw an aerial view of our childhood home, and dredge up some of our earliest, emotional memories. Connections. Finding three good ones was easy. I had to really sift through my head to find bad ones.

I'm an optimist, and apparently that started from a very young age. Either that or I've lived a charmed life. Again, I'm fine with both.

I won't share the horrible poem I wrote. Which was great fun, by the way. I had a wonderful time.

But really, when we read this little poem by:

Margaret Atwood (click on the link and read it please, it's only 4 lines ling)

I was like, “That is one seriously pissed off ex-girlfriend.”

The rest of the group was like, “Abuse. It's about abuse. The barbs and the hook and the trust and the betrayal and the...”

Yeah. Okay. If that's how it makes you feel, then that's how it makes you feel. But don't try to tell me that that is how I should feel about it.

Because I don't.

And I hope never to.

However, if you need some sarcastic poetry, call me. I'm totally in.

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