Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Why I Always Stop At Stop Signs

I really like rules. I honestly don't know where it came from. Maybe it's because I'm a teacher or maybe it's because I'm a Capricorn. Maybe I listened to my parents a bit too much. Whatever the reason, I just like the tidiness, structure, and simplicity of rules. A rule is like a pre-fulfilled expectation, for me.

Then, there's poetry. If you're living in the 21st century, poetry is the art form that flaunts rules. (Flips them off really.) Now, I am attracted to formal poetry, which allows me to be orderly and disciplined while letting down my proverbial hair. But overall, I write poetry because it allows me to crack open my hardened exterior and access something that is hidden, secret, undiscovered, and lawless.

My problem is that, in my writing and my writing practice, I like rules a bit too much. Someone at my work once said of another person that if there's a rule to follow and a form to fill out, she thinks the problem is solved. I'm the same way. I give myself goals, structures, and responsibilities, and I think that my poetry will fit into the narrow little slot I give it. Poetry, however, is not a form to fill out and not an appointment to keep or break. It's something bigger and more difficult to pin down.

I struggle often with my discipline, with the ability to write consistently over time. It's an integration problem, really. How do I integrate poetry with the rest of my life? But, I solve the problem by setting up a rule or a system, when what I need is Something Else.

So, now I have to find that Something Else, that intangible source of inspiration. I often grapple with that, considering all the other responsibilities and outside factors in my life. It's not that I'm that much busier than anyone else. It's that I crave responsibility and run to it, rather than craving a source of inspiration and running towards that. Even after a master's degree (which I thought would solve it, because that's a program), and a stated (and restated)commitment to poetry, I still feel like I'm coming to grips with the basics -- what it means to be a poet when there's deadlines and work and life.

I think I have to remember that the rule I need to follow is: Stop. Listen. Look. Breathe.

1 Comment:

Rose Dewy Knickers said...

I think rules are good in a way, but with poetry, the only rule to follow is the one that states, write and be free. ;)

Hope this helps.