My hands smell like Lysol. The washing machine is churning. A child is recovering from Influenza and coughing so deeply I cringe with guilt. In the back of my mind are the other items on my to-do list waiting for me: dusting, dinner, vacuuming.
But, writing poetry is not on that list. It’s never on my list. Scheduling poetry seems counterintuitive to me.
But, maybe it shouldn’t.
Dreaming isn’t working.
I used to dream about sitting near the seaside with a notebook, scribbling random pithy thoughts that I’d later form into a lofty poem.
Even though I live only minutes away from several lakes and a half hour from one of the greatest lakes–Lake Michigan, I have never sat on a pier and dangled my feet in the water and written a poem. Not even close. I wonder why. It seems so easy. I imagine phrases and cadences springing onto the notebook with grace and sophistication and intrigue.
Isn’t writing poetry that simple? Just escape to your favorite nature hideaway with a worn moleskin notebook. Watch the geese, feel the breeze, then scrawl your pen or flex your fingers over your keyboard and voilà . . . a refreshing sculpted poem.
Most of the time, for me anyway, it is not that simple. I doubt my word choices. I wonder if I’m leaving out something. I wonder if I’ve over written. Did I choose the wrong point of view to tell this poem? Nine times out of ten, I’m dissatisfied and I toss away the verse.
Poetry is not my bread and butter. It’s a hobby, as my husband likes to remind me. But, if it’s a hobby, why does it cause me grief? Why do I struggle to write one pure line of poetry?
Simple is hard work.
Dejan Stojanovic wrote: “The most complicated skill is to be simple.”
Like the ballet dancer who practices until her feet bleed but her performance looks effortless. We watch in awe of her talent not taking into account her trials. Or the pianist who plays scales for three hours every morning in preparation for a concert. We listen and hear beauty but we don’t see the struggles.
I have to believe that writing poetry is challenging to me because I want the end result to read simply and effortlessly. Not choppy. Or at least not incomprehensible. To look simple takes a great deal of work. I have come to realize that my challenge to myself has been to write truth with purity.
That means I need to continue to learn and to grow as I seek to be simple but elegant. Simple but profound. Simple but captivating.
And that takes work.
Scheduling poetry practice isn’t such a bad idea after all. If I can schedule my laundry, I can schedule a few precious moments musing over Robert Frost or William Butler Yeats to learn my craft better.
Speaking of challenges, the April Poem-a-Day Challenge is a few short weeks away. Last year’s April PAD results have recently been posted. What a surprise to learn that two of my poems made it into the top ten. I challenge you to join me next month. Maybe we’ll win one this time.
Also, take a peek at this month’s blog post on MouseTales Press. Thank you to Carol Early Cooney for interviewing me and to Linda Hatton, managing editor, for publishing Carol’s interview. It was fun. (And challenging. I’m not a spotlight type of gal, so this truly was a challenge.)