I had the boon of beginning my writing with great writing teachers in high school. Frank Barone, Gary Bradshaw and Mary Heath gave me the confidence to consider myself as a poet. Mr. Barone, in particular, followed the philosophy that writer’s write. Though he provided some guidance, most of his feedback was positive and encouraging. That convinced the 14 year old me that I had some skill (which I now objectively doubt). But it kept me writing. I wrote something every day for three years in high school. I needed that.
I took a poetry workshop course in college. I needed that, too, for different reasons. It was the first time I received critical feedback on my writing. While I still have not revised those poems I shared (old, old scars), I needed to understand that writing poetry that would be seen by others as having quality requires a bit more work. But that took a while to sink in. So throughout my late teens and early twenties I wrote for myself and reflected on who I was becoming. Much more self-disclosing than other periods of my writing.
I then had the pleasure of a friend who pushed me to get back to writing as a public act (Joe Woodward) and the opportunity to become a teacher of writing (with the three teachers mentioned above). For fifteen or so years I taught creative writing in high school. My students became my immediate audience, my workshop group and my inspiration. As they were writing, I was writing. Not quite a poem a day, but at least two or three a week. And I started sending my work out. Some got published, most did not.
And then I changed schools and my creative energy went into helping design the programs and curricular offerings at the new school. My poetry became secondary. And it was fine. I struggled with my lack of output for a while, but then I realized if it was important in my life, I would find time for it. And since I was not writing, it obviously was not as important as I ignorantly wanted it to be. There would be brief periods of inspirational frenzy, and I would still once or twice a year get the oomph to send my poems out, but I spent more time just reading. I didn’t have more than one or two people to whom I would share my poems, so they became a lot quieter in my life.
And now this. Every year I share my poetry with my seniors as part of a demonstration speech. Being a poet is still a part of my identity. So I decided to force the issue a little. I need to go through my old stuff. I need to finish the half-thoughts that are in my journals. I need to write occasionally.
More history, hopefully, to follow from this.