One 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 a 68-page paperback (including title pages and other such nonsense). Strange to think all this came from my dirty laundry.
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