My mentor told me about 30 years ago if I could put the pen down I’d be “cured.”
It’s a tough concept to wrap my head around, then and now. I love to write. I love to talk. I love to take an image or a word or a thought or a feeling and see what I can learn. I love to learn.
Yet, would I be cured? Would I have exorcised my demons enough to not need the process? The fact is, the process is what holds me. And maybe my mentor was speaking of poetry specifically. I don’t know for sure.
I met him once a week in his room and he taught me.
He taught me to think, I mean really think. He taught me that when I lie to myself the poem lies. He taught me to stand tall in my light when I did not know I was surrounded by shadows. He taught me to express myself. He taught me to write poems in one sitting, by writing and writing and writing. He taught me to produce now, edit later. He taught me without my knowing it that the key to life is in loving the self. He taught me to listen to my heart. He taught me what Ezra Pound knew: Great poetry is full of meaning. And poetry without music is prose
He never asked for anything, except that I write.
And he told me, as I tell others, you gotta write a lot of crap to write anything good.
He asked me why I wrote. He told me if I wanted attention I could stand in the road and scream.
My brother, an artist, told me as I was drinking booze into nothingness and living to “be a poet” [and escape life I might add] that I could become well known or not: the process is the same, between me and my Muse.
So I ask myself, to share with you, why do I write?
I write because that is who I am. I have been writing poems my whole life, or since I was nine. I write to understand myself. I write to find answers. I write well, or think I do, because I do it often. I write to uncover what is buried. I write to cry and I write to laugh.
I write because when I was forming into the individual I am there was a voice I could not hear that no one else heard that got rooted deep down inside of me and as I grew, the voice grew, found meaning, learned to listen to a part of me that was dying literally for love and life, a voice that wanted to be heard, if only in the echo of my Muse.
I write because it is not just who I am but how I am.
I used to think no one “knew” me unless they knew my poetry. I know better now: a poem is like a breath, a moment, a time to inhale what is so the exhale can give back its life. Sometimes my poems are dark. But I love the dark; I love drama; I love tragedy.
Humor, now there’s a challenge. I admire those who can make others laugh with their writing. Crying is easy. Aren’t we all on an edge somewhere inside where the tears are just waiting, with or without reason, to release the grief that comes with a heartbeat?
So do I need to be cured?
I don’t think so. I need healing, but we all do. I write because it makes me feel good. I do yoga because it makes me feel good. When I teach kids I ask them: “Why do we do yoga?” Of course there are no wrong answers: but, I say, because it is healthy, it is fun and it makes you feel good. And both writing and yoga do all three, for me. How about you?
Ed: Brianna B.