I actually liked Guest's descriptions of finding poetry a lot better than his narrative about his disability. Call me strange, but I think he might actually have cleaner emotions and less conflict with that because he was able to write about it with a bit more clarity. Then again, maybe it's because I was able to identify with it a little better, having once considered myself a poet, but never having been paralyzed.
I especially liked the description Guest included when he "discovered" the poem Melancholia. He was reading the dictionary entry, which included the etymology, and initially read it as "black hole" when it was really "black bile." Although I don't write as much poetry as I used to, whenever I do pick up a pen it is usually under similar circumstances. I actually used to write two or three poems a day in high school because I was terribly bored with the lesson plans, which were often just a rehash of the textbook anyway. I kept a running list of titles in the back of my poetry notebook so that if I ever got stuck I could just flip to the back and use it as a kind of prompt.
My favorite poems though were the ones where lines and images seemed to come to me out of nowhere. Possibly one of my favorite poems that I wrote was for my undergraduate poetry class. Although it was for an assignment, I was going through a difficult break up at the time and I felt very detached and out of place. The relationship had been floundering for a while, but the end of it still hurt in a way I couldn't have imagined. So when the assignment came to write a poem using only imagery I had a flash of inspiration. I would write about the decline of my relationship and the oddness I felt associated with that. This is the poem I wrote:
"Let's Just Take a Break"
A flood gate opens.Gallons of waterrush through a desertthat has its own forms of life.Life that cannot possibly handlethis much wateremptying intoCaverns, Cliffs, and Gullies.The land can’t absorb it allfast enough.So I am swept awaylike an old canoethe flood brought with it,now sticking in the forkof a blooming cactus.There is no one to rescuethis vessel.The canoe staysStuck.Spines grow intowater-softened wood.The flood recedes,leaving a trail of green behind it,and a canoe up in a cactus.
It is not an especially good poem, but I have always liked it for its simplicity. I like it because I did manage to capture the swell and overwhelming of emotions, the flood that I was feeling. And I did feel like my life was adrift. I didn't know what to do with myself half the time. I went through my day hoping it would be better than the last day, that I would cry less and hurt less and suddenly remember what it felt like to be happy.
I don't write poetry much anymore, partially because this blog has taken it's place, but also because I associate it with a very specific time in my life. I'm not really that person anymore, so I feel I need to use a new format to express myself.
Do you have a favorite poem or story that you've written? One that felt like it just came to you? Tell me about it.
A decent review can be found over at the Bookslut blog. I gave it two stars and a waffle (on Goodreads two stars is "it's okay".)
LibsNote: Free copy received from the publisher's booth at ALA 2010.