Love your crossover piece, Elizabeth! I feel like I write quite a few of those. I think it’s okay for poetry to change. I’ve never been a fan of rhyming poems or acrostic poetry. I don’t care to write epic poems or lyrical poetry. I’m not sure any of “my poetry” is actually poetry. But why not move forward with the genre? I think it’s okay to leave the formal, stilted writing behind us. It belongs back when life was more stately and dignified.
This is a comment that was left on a poem I created and posted on my poetry blog. In my comments after the poem, I had confessed that it was more what I call a ‘crossover’ piece, meaning a mixture, or combination of both poetry and prose. The comment had me laughing at first, because I have often wondered the same thing about whether or not my poetry was ever actually poetry.
That response might sound strange coming from an individual who has been awarded, on more than one occasion, for her skill at writing poetry. A skill, I might add, that will probably remain an utter mystery to this woman who continues to practice it. Because practice is the most important word in all of this. Personal writing is only a practice we engage in. Another attempt we make to get to know that individual we refer to as I, and me.
Take a closer look at that last sentence. Notice anything important? There’s a huge difference between that I, and the me. One is always done in an upper case letter, while the other is lower case. Why is that? Why don’t they share equal standing? And I am sure that somewhere back in our History, there is probably a simple and profoundly logical reason for that difference, but still? When is I, I, and me, just me? And why am I asking such a silly question in the first place? Because we are here to hopefully discuss Personal Writing. The one place where I and me share the same space, perhaps even become equals, or even friends.
There are at least four different versions of the I and me that people, including myself, can possibly know. 1. That individual they have come to know indirectly. Whether that is through my writing, or the perceptions of others. And both of those may be profoundly different. 2. The individual that others have come to know by actually meeting me. Their perceptions might be quite different from that first category. 3. By reputation alone. Perceptions that have proceeded me, before I’ve been met. And again, those can cover a wide gamut. Then there is the Me that only I know, that one that knows my inner thoughts and feelings. Good or bad, she most often doesn’t begin to compare with those other three, at least that has been my own experience.
So how does one get to know that person who lives inside that beating heart, who looks out of those eyes and sees the world colored by her own past experiences, and the words, true or not, that others choose to speak. What has affected her that has caused her to become the unique individual she is in the process of becoming, and will continue to become until that final breath?
The only way, I know of, is to sit down and talk with her on a regular basis. Not just now and then, but daily, because each day brings new experiences that might alter her in both large and small ways.
Take, for instance, the writer of the above comment. Would she fully understand if I told her that even though I’ve been writing poetry for over thirty years, I really don’t know if what I am writing is even poetry. That although I studied creative writing for several years, earned a degree in it, with high honors, and taught it for more years than that, I still don’t know and probably never will.
What I do know is that personal writing helped me to climb that ladder and assisted me every step of the way. That personal writing helped me find and know both the I and me of my being. It was my place to practice, to actually clarify what and how I was saying my truth, and if it made any sense at all. It became a record of my existence and helped me grow into whatever I am becoming. To make the choices that have become the I and me that exist in this present moment.
One final question, and yes this may be used as fuel for your own personal writing: What is most important to you and what have you done or are you doing to see that reality to fruition?
Stop for a moment. Really listen to those voices that respond to that question. There are really, at least two, and they probably aren’t in full agreement. Why is that? And if there are more than two? Where are they coming from? You, and only you can know the answer to those questions. If you are not doing anything to see that most important thing to reality than don’t you have to ask why? How long has it been, since you even considered doing something about it? Is the mountain too high for you to climb, or the valley too deeply draped in shadows? Do heights make you dizzy or do shadows fill you with dread and freeze your ability to move at all? Have you decided, somewhere along the way, that it is all no more than foolishness so why even consider it?
And yes, I am asking myself these same questions. And no, I’m not real happy with the answers. But knowing that is a first step which will take me to a second one, and maybe even to a third, or more. Which means I am actually moving. Not standing still or staring off into space wondering how I got here and why.
Elizabeth Crawford 5/18/2020