Rhyme or Reason: Going Home

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Dear Elizabeth*,

Too long have I envied how well you write. You don’t even have to think about it. You just pick up a pen and disappear into your own little word.

These days I know you have turned to writing novels and set aside your poetry, and in honour of your success with your novel (whether it gets published or not) I want you to have this book and to continue writing your poetry! After all, multitasking for you isn’t too hard! 🙂

Keep on writing, ❤

Velvet

This was written in a notebook given to me by one of my dearest friends (whose real name is not Velvet) on the day I received my first rejection. All I can say is that this countered out the rejection (plus some!) and I haven’t thanked her enough.

It’s true that in recent years I’ve neglected my poetry and short story-writing. There was a time when I wrote little poems constantly, on a daily basis, on Tim Hortons wrappers and my arms and pocket notebooks. It began with lyrical prose, then gravitated to more literal rhymes, then free verse. It’s funny, because I can look back at poems and tell you what year it was written, because of the style it was written in.

The past two years or so, poetry has been set aside: the only time I wrote it was for contests, for which I am now ashamed and confused.

I know a lot of people don’t like to read poetry — honestly, it’s not my favourite either. But writing poetry is cleansing, like taking deep breaths. Unlike writing larger fictional pieces, it doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to tell a story, though it can, and it can be interpreted a thousand and more different ways, a myriad of colours and emotions and meanings swirling behind words that appear identical on the outside.

Looking back on what I’ve just typed, I can see parallels between writing/reading/interpreting poetry and people. We (for the most part) all have two eyes, two ears, a nose, a mouth, a heart, a stomach, ten toes, cheekbones, four limbs. But, peeling past skin and muscle and sinew, each of us is an entirely different entity; what is inside of us is generally interpreted from the outside, but it can be misleading, judged poorly, or prejudiced. To every single other human being on this earth we are perceived differently, in good light or bad.

I know you already know this, but seeing it written out again before might remind you of why poetry can be breathtakingly beautiful.

In the last week or so my own perspective and priorities have altered and changed. I’ve placed distance between myself and my second draft and wandered lamely across the Internet (which is one of the things I do best) without much of a purpose at all. Not blogging as often, not reading other blogs as often, not even reading books as often.

Then I remembered the notebook Velvet gave me, and the letter inside it, and it has inspired me to revisit my love of poetry and other beautiful nonsense words strung together with no rhyme or reason. Oh, I’m sure I’ll still think about When the River Freezes (the tentative new title, changed from Arden: the Girl from the Mountains), and occasionally jot down a couple paragraphs or add to the synopsis, but I’m taking the next month (or more, depending on how it goes) to bring out my inner Shakespeare, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Frost.

I’m not expecting results to compare with the likes of those giants, but the point of this exercise is to relax, to become re-acquainted with words I might have lost contact with (silt! I completely forgot about the word silt!), and regain a flow to my prose that I feel I’ve lost since working on When the River Freezes. Heighten descriptions, whimsical content, and rekindle the love of words that made me start writing in the first place. I wrote poetry before I ever tried my hand at long fiction, and I think I’ve been away from home for too long.

It’s time to go home.

~~~

I haven’t decided who I would rather be here: Elizabeth or Shakespeare.
Portrait: “Shakespeare Reading to Queen Elizabeth” by John James Chalon (1778-1854)

Some of my poems might appear here, or they might not. You shall read it when I post it!

*Velvet and I have been friends since before I began going by Libby, and often still calls me by my full name, in case you were wondering. I’d like to thank Velvet for her support, inspiration and lovely letter — it means the world to me.

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4 thoughts on “Rhyme or Reason: Going Home

    • Thanks, Cassandra. I’m excited to swtich gears for awhile, to dabble in the chaos, confusion and disorder that is generally avoided at all costs in lengthy prose. It feels a little like breaking the rules, and it feels fantastic. 🙂

  1. I’m not much of a poet. I prefer novels to poems in almost every sense, but I’ve made a few sad… very sad attempts. I actually saw a book of college student poems that were written when drunk or something, and thought I might attempt something similar (strange poems, sans drunkenness). I made something like three terrible poems (they were meant to be kind of bad) before giving up. I don’t think I have them any more either, which is almost a shame. Funny thing, I had a title in mind for the collection – “Without Rhyme or Reason”. The post title reminded me of that.

    I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award! http://awritingunderdog.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/one-lovely-blog-award/

    • I’m a believer in the cliche concept that there is no bad poetry, though often I’ll choose to keep my work to myself if I’m not especially pleased with or it’s too personal. Losing the poems is too bad; it’s fun to look back and see where I was at that point in my life. Last month a woman whom I had given one of my poems to years ago bumped into me, squeezed my arm, and told me that the poem had survived the fire that destroyed her house. It was extremely gratifying, and it made me realize that my poetry can actually mean something to other people besides a jumble of fancy-sounding words. I hope you’ll change your mind about poetry — I wrote my first ones in months the other day and when I finished I felt like I had the best therapy session of my life (not that I’ve ever had therapy…).

      Thank you so much! I think you’re lovely, too. 🙂

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