Advice for the Young (Poet) at Heart

Poetry was not really my thing.

I wrote poetry as a shy, insecure and sensitive teenager, much as other shy, insecure and sensitive teenagers did, but as I grew older it lost its allure. Not because I was less inclined (I was in bands and writing my own music and lyrics by that stage), not because I was any less shy, more secure, or insensitive, but because it no longer seemed to be needed to express what I was feeling (I think alcohol did that instead). But I’m not a teenager anymore, being just shy of middle-age. Now I’m a student, a would-be writer and a recalcitrant.

About twelve months ago, I woke up at 4:00am in the morning (nothing new there, I generally wake up at ridiculous times of the night with my head spinning) and immediately wrote a poem which I posted to my blog (see below). It’s the piece of writing that reignited my youthful passion for writing poetry.

Reborn.

Darkness then

             warming rays

                         bright fingers on my face

Cellphone silence

              binary muse

                          prod me back to life

Womb of sheets

               engulfs my being

                          consumed alive

Silken lover

                her promise yields

                           to the light

Reborn.

Stephen Thompson

Since I wrote that poem, I haven’t been able to stop. I write poems when I’m walking, when I’m sitting on the toilet, when I’m eating (hopefully not all at the same time). I have a vast amount of inspiration to draw on (as a result of my less than spectacular life choices).

Having rediscovered my own poetry, I find I am not as well read when it comes to poets as I should be. One particular poem I love is The Road Not Taken, by multiple Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Robert Frost, as it holds personal meaning for me in my less than spectacular life’s journey so far. Choice and predestination are things I could chat about for hours, but I’m sure you’d rather read the poem.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
 
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
 
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
 
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

As an amateur poet, I recommend that all amateur poets read as much poetry as possible and learn as much about the craft as possible, including the various formal poetic forms and meter and time. A great place to start is The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms, by Mark Strand and Eavan Boland, which includes poems from throughout the ages by some of the greatest living and dead poets.

Cheers

Steve 😊

My first e-book of poetry, The All or the Nothing, is available now. And at just $5.99 for 62 poems, that’s less than 10 cents a poem!
To find out how to get a copy, click here.
Support starving poets everywhere!

2 thoughts on “Advice for the Young (Poet) at Heart

Add yours

  1. Good advice. I love this relatable, insightful, and yet unique line: “not because I was any less shy, more secure, or insensitive, but because it no longer seemed to be needed to express what I was feeling.”
    Glad you got back into poetry!

    Liked by 2 people

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