Friday, November 2, 2007

Poetry Friday: As Bad (and as Good) as It Gets

I opened the envelope---the one that contains my writing from high school. I'm sorry to say that most of it is very, very bad. You don't believe me, do you? Here's proof:

Yeah, it's here! oleo and
55 cans of dog food coming right up!
Ah this is the good life
croaks the overall man
gasping out his words as the
sweat of Death marks his

I have no idea what inspired that one. Maybe I wanted to use "sweat of Death" in a sentence. I like this one better, mostly for its sheer exuberance, but also because I think I might be poking fun at my own self-absorption:

I'm carrying my own flag,
charging the wind for laughs
'cause today I can't lose!
I love me and

I and me dance
in ecstasy and silliness
all rolled up in my charging flag
with my emblem
painted there by me.
the goodness of God
the goodness of me!

I'm glad I kept these. And one more important one, a haiku that is so overblown that it could be printed and sold on a helium balloon:

Joy lifted me up
for a ride on her rainbow.
I slid---to find you.

I hope you're smiling. Because that was the first time I remember writing words that matched who I was inside, instead of for a school assignment. What a rush! I felt heady with the discovery that all that messy stuff in my heart and my head could erupt onto the page as words. I've never forgotten or gotten over that moment. It's who I am---a writer---then and now. I just didn't know it at the time, or I would've written better poetry. You know, for the envelope.

Poetry Friday is hosted by Mentor Texts & More


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  2. Sara, I wanted to, really, but I cannot. I dug up my high school literary anthologies and reacquainted myself with the truly dreadful things that were published with my name attached but I just cannot bear to put them back out there. You're a brave and true soul, Sara, much stronger than I.

    There is that parody of Frost that I did though...

  3. You are a brave, brave woman. I re-read some of my stuff this summer, and it is excruciatingly bad. Even the poems published in the high school literary magazine make me blush with embarrassment. Kudos to you for sharing this early work.

  4. Oh, you are indeed a brave woman! I'm afraid to venture near my high school and college stuff. It's bad enough that I recently posted something I wrote in my twenties. :-/

  5. Sara,

    Thanks for a look back. I didn't write poetry when I was young. I wanted to be a comedy writer! I wrote song and play parodies. Yes, I even passed in a parody of Oedipus Rex to an English teacher in high school. I was hoping she'd accept it in place of the term paper she had assigned. She didn't!

    I do know that I hated writing required assignments--but loved writing what I wanted to write.

    When I look back at the notebooks I kept of the children's poetry I wrote when I was a beginner, I see how far I have come. Without those early pieces I never could have pushed the brush aside and cleared the path for the kind of poetry I really hoped to write.

  6. That second one has a bit of 'ol E.E. to it -- in parts.

    I wrote maybe three poems in high school. I bet I can find them. Now you've convinced me to do so.

  7. Thanks for sharing your high school poems. I love how you kept writing throughout the years and how your writing has evolved into the incredible poems we admire so much today.

  8. I kind of like "charging the wind for laughs."

    Which reminds me of a scene in Emily of New Moon, by LM Montgomery, where her school teacher goes through all her poetry and rips it to shreds, but tells her to keep writing for the sake of a few phrases that worked...

  9. An interesting look back! It's a familiar feeling. I cringe at my old stuff, yet I can detect the exuberance and energy that fueled the writing. Like you, I was high with the discovery of putting myself into words. As we evolve, our words do, too.

  10. I destroyed all of mine years ago, although my college boyfriend still has a bunch of them somewhere (and still reads and likes them!)

    "sweat of Death" was priceless.

    And I liked the senryu/haiku - the symbolism equating a person with the treasure at the end of the rainbow was a neat twist.

  11. hey, Sara. You are brave. I don't know if I have any old poetry at my parents' home. I do remember one about Time that went "Time is Time/ Time flees Time" and so on. It was beautiful. Not.

  12. I wish I had been writing poetry in high school (though I probably would be too embarrassed to share it). Thank *you* for sharing. It was a good chuckle for a Friday, and it still shows the seeds of emotion and self-expression that you do so well today! That's encouraging for every poet.

  13. Sara, you've inspired me, more's the pity, to put up my own bad old poetry. Yikes.

    Thank God we move on...

  14. Wow Sara you are brave. My old high school poetry, what I remember of it anyway was dark, morose and terribly, terribly bad. I found it one day and rather than keep it - I paper punched it all into confetti and used it in those empty painted eggshells covered with tissue paper for a ceremony at Springtime - the one us Aztec dancers call Xochipilli, which means new life.

  15. Oh, I'm loving all your stories. And that some of you are posting your old stuff, too! Woo-hoo!

    I also have an old valedictorian speech, if any of you would like to hear that. Podcast, anyone? Hee, hee.

  16. Hey, everyone...go see the moment when John Green became a writer. Unlike me, his moment was captured on video tape.

  17. Oh, Sara -- what a great video!! Thanks.

    (Do you know that ALL YEAR LONG I've told myself I'll get caught up on Brotherhood, since I've seen, like, three episodes?? Now IT'S NOVEMBER!!)


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