How my Red Bra Transformed my Understanding of Poetry

ammonite-2541707_1920One fall while I was in college, I took a creative writing course. I always thought of myself as a fiction writer. I have a strange, private library of first chapters and unfinished novels. Then, I sat down to fulfill a writing prompt that changed my entire perspective on writing. It had to do with writing a poem about something ordinary, familiar.

And there! There laid my dirty laundry. Draped across my blue jeans was a lacey, red bra. I remember imagining the limbs in them and the passing of the day. I wrote a short, 9-lined poem. When I passed this around our workshop, they believed it was about sex.

This changed my writing in three ways.

One: I love to blur the line between ordinary objects and the ideas imbued within them. If you try too hard to create symbolism or force metaphor, it becomes clumsy. There is a simple elegance that I try to recognize in all things.

Two: I love powerful, feminine images that bring out our true perspectives on womanhood. Words have weight. When I say “bra”, it is such a sexual word to many people. What happens if you shed that meaning and let it be just a bra? What happens if you embrace that meaning? It’s just dirty laundry.

Three: I fell in love with poetry. I like brevity. Most of my poems are bite-sized. I aim to create only a moment of intense feeling. The fewer words, the more challenging it is. In that way, writing poetry provides reflection and gives you something to ponder. Language is a medium used to shape emotions, perceptions. How powerful can just a few lines be?

Over five years, I wrote close to fifty poems. Give or take a few. When I pulled them all together in a collection, I was taken aback. I had expected a book no longer than ten pages but ended up with aΒ 68-page paperback (including title pages and other such nonsense). Strange to think all this came from my dirty laundry.

You can read a sample of it from SmashwordsΒ or buy the paperback on Amazon. (Pst. “Red Bra” is included in this collection.)

Feel free to get in touch and talk writing with me. Say hello: ozarkbearlady@gmail.com

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