When I was asked to write something about poetry, I was both excited and apprehensive. Excited because, “at least someone thinks I am a poet” and apprehensive because, “dammit, someone actually thinks I am a poet”. Having received no formal training, I cannot (as much as I would want to) talk about the technicalities, literary masterpieces and various structural versions of poetry. Hence, I am limited to talking about my own (humble) experiences as an amateur poet. Bear with me.
First child and labour pains
This poet was born, thanks to Ufone’s sms package. No, literally. One day, out of sheer boredom and exam-avoidance syndrome, I typed a piece in my “send message” section and circulated it. Quiet miraculously, I received positive feedback which fed my narcissism tremendously and before I knew it, I had developed a taste for literary praise. Fearing ruthless investigation because of my embarrassing clean poetic slate (here it is worth mentioning, I am not even an ardent poetry reader. Slap me), I Googled poetry and selected a form for myself. Free style. How clever am I?
I had always heard people equate poetry with divine revelations. You are supposed to pick up a pen when there is an urge and it will, by itself, write a beautiful couplet. Well, hello reality; It was frustratingly mechanical for me! I would select a topic, e.g. subjective morality and then let that topic stay with me for a while. It would grow in me. At odd times, while taking a shower, before going to bed, I would think about it, putting together a beginning, constructing an end and then when, I was finally ready (read: free to write), I would jot it down. But the process of jotting it down has always been laborious. From the correct selection of an adjective to overcoming the temptation of using an utterly useless line for the sake of rhythm, I had to literally push myself. Sometimes, it would take days to complete a poem and that meant, for days I felt frustrated and pre-occupied. The important question here is, if it is so draining, why write? Final product. Close your eyes and imagine a man with his outstretched arms, closed eyes and a peaceful face, rising against a sun lit sky. Yes, that is how I feel after writing and the need to feel this way makes the labour pains worth it.
The dark art
The addictive supremacy that comes with creating gradually replaced the gluttonous need to be appreciated. This empowered me with the ability to write whatever I felt like writing, without caring much about people’s opinions and more importantly, publications. I do not and quiet honestly cannot write about the velvety sky or a heart-wrenching betrayal. For me, personally, truth is beautiful. This makes an open gutter or an honour killing more relevant than mesmerising scenes from Nathia Gali. I am in no way belittling the association of poetry with beauty and I think those who can create a comfortable environment for us, through their words, are doing a respectable thing. However, I am here to disturb and not comfort. I had already decided, very early on, my agenda is to “shake and wake”. Poetry is an effective medium and socio-political awareness, a noble cause. Combine both and you get a very disturbing result. Sadly, this means, not all your pieces would be published. This is pretty acceptable, considering, not everyone thinks alike and magazines cater to a wide audience. But words are powerful and the usage should be brutal. Join us, we have cookies.
Blues and fluke
When you believe in something wholeheartedly and you think your writing can serve as a catalyst which can ignite a revolutionary change (yes, to that delusional extent), you desperately desire a stage and although poetry is a self-satisfying process there is no denying the fact that censorships leave you bitter. The feeling of emasculation and resentment will constantly tempt you to either change your course or give up. Now, combine that with frequent phases of self-doubt. “I have received no formal training, was this all a fluke?” Even post hundred poems; every break seems like the end. So, what can you do? Honestly, either stay constantly hopeful or get educated, once and for all. I am, currently doing the former but plan on exploring the latter. Stumbling upon it wasn’t a conscious decision but repetitively writing, is. Therefore, it is my responsibility towards my rhythmic skills, my cause and my audience to be more than just an undiscovered amateur poet. Say yes to being pro-active.
You must be wondering, what in the world did you just read. The whole point was to humanise the process of writing and to share its highs and lows. Poetry (the act of creating) is very empowering. Having a healthy outlet or an escape, in today’s world, is necessary. So don’t question yourself and pick up that pen. With time your poetry will evolve and with effort, you will emerge as a poet and if neither happens, you were a genius who was ahead of his time.