Why I Write Poetry-Still Going Twenty Years Later
Because I want to.
Because it lets me be authentic.
Because we need poetry.
Besides, supplies are basic and simple…a journal, a blue pen and the words that spill out thoughts and memories.
In the winter of 1997, I wrote my first poem. Actually, it was a running track to tell a friend from Boston what it was like to live in Colorado while sitting in a traffic jam one January morning on I-25 staring at Pikes Peak. Searching like a mad woman in my school bag for pen and paper, words began to spill out and I could not get them written down fast enough. I was afraid I would forget them as fast as they came.
Writing a poem for me is not a goal-oriented activity. I t has been a continual process of discovering who I am and for me I cannot do that in writing a novel. I have discovered that my words can have an immediate and long lasting impression on those that read them; something that is expressed when one feels the same way as I do and cannot or will not write them down. While writing a poem can be in be a most intimate and satisfying experience, how it touches a reader’s heart and life is the most important and gratifying tribute I could have as a writer.
I write free verse only; I am partial to the flow of eloquent and rich language. I do not rhyme or do metered poetry or sonnets-it reminds me of teaching language arts daily to my students at school. I do not care for writing prompts set up by someone else’s idea of what a writing subject should be. My writing “prompts” come from observing details of the world around me-what I am seeing in the moment, what I am feeling or what I have remembered from an experience in my life. As an example, in the award winning poem The Wedding Ring Quilt, there is a direct relationship between my words and my writing what I have experienced…not exactly the typical writer’s mantra of “write what you know”:
THE WEDDING RING QUILT
This morning, the first snow of spring
kept falling like a curtain of lace across the mountains,
spilling remnants of winter
down into the stunted pine brushed valley.
“I hope it snows six feet,” I said.
Warm, weathered hands
gathered our wedding ring quilt
around the curve of me,
knowing the soft why of my words.
I am always looking for ways to improve my work. One of the best ways has been through my writing group that I have been with for the past eight years. Their insights and critiques are not just welcome, but truly invaluable. Sitting on my sofa, drinking cups of tea or coffee, fresh pens and journals in hand, wearing the comfiest of clothes lends itself to a ‘sense of place’ with trusted friends that help you figure out words, images and frustrations. But I also have found having mentor and editor that knows my style of writing and where it should go, not only the best investment, but invaluable in my writing journey. I have always said that my editors Laurie Wagner Buyer and Page Lambert are my “MFA” degree in poetry; I have worked with both and reaped the benefit of their expertise. Laurie suggested a title change to one of my poems and it won a third place prize in the Denver Women’s Unknown Writing Contest. A year later, another poem took Honorable Mention. In 2016, I won the Colorado Independent Publishing Association Award in poetry for my illustrated poetry book titled ‘Bright Star of Palmer Lake’. This poem was first published in my collection titled ‘Journey On: Beauty and Grit along the Way’ in 2012. My education as a poet is always ongoing; I hope it never ceases.
My poetry has been published in small journals and local publications such as a few “Distant Horizons”-a publication of the Wyoming Poets Society, Mary Jane Magazine, The Pen Woman, and Story Circle Journal. My web site is www.annablakegodbout.com along with using social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I write under the name Anna Blake Godbout ( my middle and maiden names) which began years ago to separate my writing life from my daily life as a special education teacher.
As owner and publisher of Mountain Tapestry Press, I am always finding ways to market my poetry. One of my favorite ways to market is to combine my poems with my photography. Each poem and photo tells their own story-they enrich one another in a different medium. I have exhibited (twice) this combination at the Barnes and Noble Café in Colorado Springs. What was wonderful about this opportunity for me is that I see it as a “30 day book signing”. I have seen many people take the time to read my work and take my business card. A few photo/poem combos have sold from this exhibit. Another way to market my work is that I take advantage of my local Arts Center in Palmer Lake. Whenever there is member exhibit coming up, I always enter my work. No other photographers have poems with their work except for me and it is always a unique way to get my name and work out there. I have started writing groups in my community, teach writing workshops, created poems for special occasions, and even teach photo/writing to students in elementary schools. I have been a book judge in the Pikes Peak Library writing contests, Colorado Independent Publishing Association (CIPA) and Women Writing the West and a presenter at poetry workshops at Colorado College and CCIRA Literacy Conference in Denver, and teaching the ‘Poetry in the Schools Project’ with the Pikes Peak Branch of the National League of American Pen Women. My work has been composed to music and used in several musical performances.
Why do I write poetry? Is it because I love to wear black and a beret at a reading? (Forget the beret; my hair is not long enough.) Is it because I love to write my words in blue scripted font instead of the standard Times New Roman black and white? (The answer is a definite yes!) Or is it because I have had people tell me that my simple creations touch their heart in language they can relate to and feel deeply when life becomes too chaotic and my words can take them somewhere else for a moment in time?
Still after twenty years as a poet, I love to imagine someone getting up each morning and having a small connection with a poem of mine over morning tea, smile and begin his or her day. After all, poems hold their own secrets, don’t they?
~Nancy Godbout Jurka writing as Anna Blake Godbout