Writing poetry is such a big part of my passion in life. I love using words to express the beauty of something, or to raise questions about the world in general around us. Being able to transform words from the relatively mundane to aesthetically awesome makes me really excited. However did I stumble upon the idea to start writing? Good question… Here’s that story:
In 6th grade, I was just getting past the whole idea that I wouldn’t die from cooties (I knew that girls were ridden with the filthy things, whatever they were). This was the discovery that lead me to entertaining the idea of girls as romantic interests. That particular year, there was one girl that caught my fancy. Her name was Ronnieceisha (pronounced: Ronisha). She was so awesome! She was the cutest girl in our class, and I had no way to talk to her. As far as I knew, we didn’t have anything in common at all, so I thought I was facing an uphill battle. One day I decided to find something that we had in common. I noticed at a lunch break one day, she was reading a book of poetry. As I continued stalking observing her, I found out that she also wrote poetry too. Being the young enterprising man that I was, I quickly decided that I could also make words rhyme. It couldn’t be that hard right? English was my favorite subject in school, how hard would it be to parlay that into some random poem? So I struck up a conversation with her about poetry and we conversed for a little while. At first I was convinced that just shaking my head and nodding would do the trick. Eventually, she wanted to sample some of my talent….
The first poem that I ever wrote was on a little 3×5 index card. I don’t remember what it was about. I just knew that I was writing it to impress some girl that was in my class. It was probably crappy as hell too, but she seemed to think that it was pretty good. (cha-ching!) This continued for a couple of weeks. I would write these little poems and show them to her, and we would compare poetry and all was good. So it seemed…
One day, as I was getting ready to proudly display to her my latest verbal concoction, I was surprised to find her talking to some other guy about how much she didn’t really like poetry anymore. Apparently this was just a phase that she was going through and she found another shiny hobby to keep her interests. That could’ve been the end of everything, if one of my teachers had not noticed what I had been doing for the past few weeks during one of our free periods. I was asked to share one of my little index card masterpieces with the class. At first I thought it was just ridiculous, but I did it anyways. How astonished was I to find that people didn’t laugh at me. Also, unknown to me, one of our teachers was a big poetry fan. She took me under her wing and challenged me to do daily writing exercises. I began to actually understand a bit what I was doing. All of a sudden, writing wasn’t a way to hit on people! (Who would’ve knew?!) Writing was a way of expressing myself in ways that I might not have been comfortable enough to do with just my regular words. My teacher, Mrs. Rupert, was a great mentor in that she let me experiment with different ways of putting words together. She really pushed and encouraged me to create poetry for the sake of getting practice.
Somehow word got around to the principal of my school about my lyrical delving. She decided that it might be a good idea to have me write a poem to go into the monthly newsletter that went out to all the parents. It was actually quite exciting to see my words on some real “published” paper. This became a regular thing. I would write a poem for the special events that happened at school. Any special holiday, or school event that occurred was handled by the school poet laureate.
The high point of the year of discovery, was when I got published in a book. It was probably the most exciting thing I have ever done really. Mrs. Rupert decided to let me know about a national contest for young poets. There was a national anthology that was getting put together, and they were accepting submissions to win a small cash prize and publication in the book. I spent many after school hours crafting a poem… Put it through many revisions and finally submitted it. If it weren’t for Mrs. Rupert pushing me, I don’t think that I would even have the confidence to enter. Near the end of the year, I was notified that I was a winner and that the company would be publishing my poem in their anthology. I still remember being sooo happy. I couldn’t believe that I had written something that got published. I kept laughing at the fact that all this occurred because of a stupid grade school crush…
Here is the poem that I wrote which made it into the anthology:
I often sit and wonder
In a curious sort of way,
Why a little bluebird,
Never had anything to say,
At first I tried to comfort him,
In a kind and friendly way,
I brought him food and flowers
I played him music everyday.
But in spite of everything I’d done,
And quite to my dismay,
The bluebird still has nothing to say!
Then I called to him,
Little bluebird why don’t you sing,
Where is the joy that you alone can bring?
Young child he said, I bring no joy
The joy is within your heart,
Your happiness depends on you.
You must do your part.
I found the secret, now I know,
That you must be quiet,
To let the light of wisdom glow.
– Justin Smith age: 12