I’ve been having some severe writer’s block lately, especially when it comes to long, articulated pieces about my opinions. To alleviate that, I decided to write some poetry. Poetry was actually the first kind of writing I ever loved–my gateway drug into writing, if you will. My first piece, as I mentioned in a previous post, was a poem written when I was three. It was just:
Sword, sword, are you golden? So poised upon the yellow grass?
Then, in fifth grade, a close friend of mine got really into writing haikus (thanks Leann!). For those who don’t know, haikus are little Japanese poems that have three lines; one five syllables, the next seven, the last five. I jumped right onto the haiku bandwagon with her and started to crank them out. They were so short and easy to write! I actually made a little nine-page book, each page with five haikus on it. If I could find it, I’d add one of the little beauties in here, but I’ll just have to reproduce one from memory.
Love is strange, but can
Someone truly be in love
With a brown chicken?
Something like that. I was a weird kid. I also thought I was way better at these than I actually was. Man, I bragged about that 45-haiku book for weeks. I’m still proud of it, if only for how fond I was of the haiku format at that point in my life. Later, in sixth grade, I wrote a poem about slavery (we were doing a unit on it–this was not of my own accord) from the point of view of a fleeing slave. A guest speaker came in to read our work and ended up crying while reading mine. I was very proud, but it also made me feel uncomfortable and guilty. Looking back on it, I only feel weirder about the whole thing–was it really right that a little white kid wrote from the perspective of an African-American adult woman facing racial discrimination? Not a fan of that memory, to be honest, but there’s still a certain (shameful) amount of pride there.
I wrote some angsty stuff in middle school. We won’t go into that.
In the summer following eighth grade (or was it ninth?), I discovered that I could play the piano by ear. That’s when my songwriting really kicked off. I’d taken some stabs at writing music before, but my lyrics were always trite and the tunes the same. But it turned out that all I needed was a bit of residual ~edge~ from middle school and some ~mild piano skills~ to get started. Now I have a repertoire of about 45 songs, and of those 45, I like about a quarter of them. Listening to my older stuff is just the worst. (Unless it’s instrumental. That holds up decently.)
Junior year, I started my novel. I’m writing the second in the series now, and I have plans to overhaul the first. It’s good for being written by a 17-year-old, I’ll admit that, but hoo boy are there some amateur mistakes in that thing. I’ve also got my third novel (and fourth and fifth) in the works. I’m actually super psyched for this series–its characters, lore, all that jazz. Now I just need to think of a plot.
But this is about poetry! Not novel/songwriting!
Recently, because of my writer’s block, I’ve been searching for other creative outlets. I had a conversation with my dad not long ago, right after he showed me a poem he’d recently written. It was really cool, and you can actually read it here. What got me, though, was that he said it was inspired by my own stuff. He went on to say that I was gifted in the poetry department especially, which really touched me. NOTE: I don’t mean to toot my own horn here. I’m just relaying an experience. Anyway, that reminded me that poetry has always come easiest to me. I went back to my roots and wrote about the existential crisis I’d been having (in short, to engineer or not to engineer?). Later, I wrote a tune for it.
Here it is, I guess.
The Narrow Road
A glance along the narrow road
Begets a certain kind of dread;
I still must walk the darker mile
Perhaps I’ll sit and wait awhile
For all the steps I’ve yet to tread.
There is no way of knowing now,
Is there a path to page and pen?
I, although I could not see,
Forwent the compass offered me
And ventured out beyond the glen.
To trail my hand along the line,
This burning street that now I walk,
Will cast great shapes in shadow-play,
And little ones? They run away
And tremble in the aftershock.