Some days I think about writing poetry and I’m all like “I got nothin”. Other days I start thinking about life and my history and the music in my ears and everything seems like a poem begging to be born. I’ve been around the block and I’ve experienced a lot of shit. Some of it you would not believe. My closest friends would not believe it. Stuff in my past that I never talk about with anyone. When people have events they never talk about, it’s typically something they are ashamed of and wanting to hide. Or sometimes it’s painful and they don’t talk about it because it stirs up too much heartache.
I’m no exception to that rule. At my last residency one of the faculty gave a lecture where he talked about nostalgia and the wavelength we are all on. It starts out as a flatline before we are born and the amplitude and frequency grows as we get older. Once we reach adulthood we can have wild swings up and down and life hands us a lot that we have to figure out how to deal with. We may have events that rock our world, and other where we feel like we just got “Rick Rolled”.
He talked about how, as writers, we gravitate toward exploring those events and often return back to them again and again for inspiration. He indicated that there are typically four or five things that we cycle through. Most of the time, it’s deep, tough stuff. I’ve definitely witnessed this phenomenon in my travels.
In the last few years I’ve been more active in my local writing community. I’ve attended readings and workshops and poetry slam contests. I’ve become somewhat familiar with the local artists and their work and also read books published by visiting poets. My observations validate what Jim Peterson talked about in his lecture.
People have had tough lives. Mental illness, drug addiction, suicide, abuse, poverty. I’ve listened to poets use their art to express what they have experienced in their lives. I’ve also witnessed the trend of individuals who use that circumstance over and over. A few times I’ve felt that it’s the same poem rewritten in a different way over and over. Perhaps I’ve just heard the same poems recited by the same person again and again, but in reading collections I do detect themes. It may be that that is what was intended with a particular book, but my mind keeps returning to the idea of nostalgia and artists accessing their past to create something beautiful.
In the lecture JP made a point about how nostalgia can happen with both positive and negative events. We can look back longingly at some previous time, wishing for things to be like that again. That’s the traditional thought invoked when people talk about nostalgia. He made a case that it’s also looking back at a difficult time which evokes a different set of emotions. Both can be a challenge to process. We have grief, longing, sadness, and regret but we can also have joy, peace, humor, and hope.
When I think about all of this I recognize I have a wealthy history of experiences to draw from, I may not be ready to face my demons, but that doesn’t mean I can’t sharpen my sword with some interesting peak-wavelength moments, or at the very least something more interesting than the hum-drum that most days are composed of.
I could tap into the time in my life I lived in Las Vegas or the time I traveled to the UK solo just to go to the Snow Patrol concert or my experiences traveling other places. I have written only scraps about those times. I’ve got tiny snippets from times when I was falling in love and magical moments with my babies (now teenagers).
In days like today I look around me and am inspired by everything. The sunrise is a different shade of amazing each and every day. I’m grateful for so much and want to express that in my poetry also. I’m sure most of it is just Fluff, but that’s no reason to hold back. If I want to celebrate the Man in Black on the treadmill next to me, then that’s what I’m going to do. I mean, Bird Girl is way more interesting but I haven’t seen her for months. So many possibilities.
On that note, it’s time to wrap here and go write a poem. Yeah, it’s as easy as that. What’s a girl to do?
Looking on the Bright Sides,