Writing history

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.


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