Posted on Sunday, June 12, 2011 in Creativity
“You choose to be a novelist, but you’re chosen to be a poet. This is a gift and it’s a tremendous responsibility. You have to be willing to give something terribly intimate and secret of yourself to the world and not care, because you have to believe that what you have to say is important enough.”
Not a novelist, I can’t speak from experience if a person chooses to be a novelist.
And I can’t say a thing about other professions. Does a person choose or are they chosen to be a doctor? Lawyer? Auto mechanic? Dentist?
I have finally recognized that I have been chosen to be a poet.
It has taken me a long time to reach that conclusion.
That word “intimate” is what kept me from embracing poetry earlier in my life. In my 20’s I struggled with intimacy in personal relationships. My childhood had been too painful.
Over the years, I worked at developing more intimate relationships and finally in my mid-30s got married.
Meanwhile, I came in and out of poetry. In my 20’s I took a creative writing class in poetry at the University of Houston but sharing my poetry was too scary so I backed away from it for many years.
Poetry kept calling me. In my mid 30’s I gave poetry another go and took a workshop with poet, Arthur Sze, who encouraged me to get my MFA in Poetry, which I did at Vermont College.
But I kept my poetry private, only showing it to a small writing group. I certainly kept poetry and my work life separate. There was no way I was going to bring my vulnerability in front of groups.
My belief systems have changed.
Now I bring poetry in front of every group because I am convinced there is no quicker and better way to bring humanity into the room, which is desperately needed.