The Road goes ever on (or Why am I a Poet?)

“The problem with deciding to be a Poet is realizing you’ll wind up broke, drunk or both and you’ll probably die in obscurity. If you learn this and still decide to be a Poet, then congratulations, and I’m sorry.”

I wrote this in a moment of self-reflection back on September 3rd. It was a sardonic truth that came to me, when I realized that’s what I was, a Poet, one who writes poetry, and for a mere moment I felt despair (my depression raged on in my brain, berating my dreams and ambitions, as it always does), the moment passed and I felt relief, peace, something akin to both of those. I had come to a decision about my life, and it felt good.

Now, is being a poet even a valid career path, you may ask. My natural response to that question is I don’t care, and I can’t succeed if I don’t pursue it. So, pursue it I must, for it is my passion, my pain, my kismet, fatum; it is all these things and more. Poetry comes out in two ways for me, spontaneously or deliberately. When spontaneous it flows with ease through me, little editing is needed on my part, and it comes out almost fully formed. When deliberate, when I choose to write based on a theme or an idea, it’s metaphorically like giving birth from your brain onto the page, it’s painful and exhausting. Both are worthwhile and both have a place, because both come from within me.

I’ll tell you this, don’t ask me where a poem comes from if it’s spontaneous, because I won’t have an answer for you, because I don’t know. God could be reaching down and touching my forehead and letting the poem flow in that way. My synapses could be firing in such a way that activates that portion of my brain which causes me to write. It could be a misfire or a seizure, Elves could whisper them in my ear, Huginn and Muninn could be having a tug of war in my brain; I just don’t know. In those instances the poem just comes to me, and I am glad for it.

So, where did my Passion for poetry come from?
When I was a child of six (or seven), my Dad began reading me The Hobbit every night. (I loved that book; it was one of my favourites.) He then began reading me The Lord of the Rings. What happened next was what cemented my love of reading. His reading it to me every night wasn’t going fast enough, so he started reading it himself, and since I wanted to know what happened next, I started reading it myself. So into the world of Fantasy was I thrust, but that’s not what this confessional is about; this is about how I developed my passion for poetry.

J.R.R. Tolkien is how; this poem in particular started it.
“Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them,
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.”

This inspired me and I wrote my first poem about Elves in the second grade.
I had the bug. That’s where my love of poetry came from. Just read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, they are chock full of poems and songs that Tolkien created for his world. These were the seeds that grew within me.

Next came Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising Sequence and this.

“When the Dark comes rising six shall turn it back;
Three from the circle, three from the track;
Wood, bronze, iron; Water, fire, stone;
Five will return and one go alone.

Iron for the birthday; bronze carried long;
Wood from the burning; stone out of song;
Fire in the candle ring; water from the thaw;
Six signs the circle and the grail gone before.

Fire on the mountain shall find the harp of gold
Played to wake the sleepers, oldest of old.
Power from the Green Witch, lost beneath the sea.
All shall find the Light at last, silver on the tree.”

As I grew older, music became more of an influence and Pink Floyd especially coloured my poetry. Shine on you Crazy Diamond is a prime example of this.

“Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Now there’s a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
You were caught in the crossfire of childhood and stardom, blown on the steel breeze.
Come on you target for faraway laughter, come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!

You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond!
Well you wore out your welcome with random precision,
rode on the steel breeze.
Come on you raver, you seer of visions, come on you painter,
you piper, you prisoner, and shine!”

Music, Comics, Literature, Television, Movies, Gaming, any and all media I consumed would touch upon my poetry. Not to mention my personal experiences and what feelings would play into it. All through the later grades of high school and into University I would write poetry in my notebook whenever inspiration struck. Then, when I left university I stopped, my creativity had escaped me; my muse had departed and depression was running the show. I didn’t know this until about a decade later, but I believe that was at the Heart of my dry spell. Depression kills creativity.

The Good news is a few years back, I started again. I feel again the joy and pain of creation, the fire of inspiration, the elation of having created something and letting it out into the world.

I can say now and forever that I am a…

POET!

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