The Reluctant Poet

Although I’ve been writing since my teenage years, I’ve never described myself as a poet, preferring to say “I write poetry” instead. Perhaps my reluctance to define myself as one has stemmed from an inability to recognise myself as a poet; an unwillingness to commit myself fully to the poetic world; or an innate fear of failure.

Poet pic

…Is this what a poet looks like?!

Melancholy

Does this make me a poet?

Whatever the psychology behind it, I have now reached a point where I feel comfortable applying the term ‘poet’ to myself. Recently, at the risk of sounding a bit pretentious (that was probably a factor in my reluctance too), I’ve started to introduce myself as a poet in social situations with new people, and have been pleased to discover that it doesn’t cause anyone to mumble an excuse and leg it. In reality, it actually has the opposite effect- people seem to love it!

The only downside to this, especially when talking to the opposite sex, is that many people instantly want you to stand on a table and recite poetry for their own entertainment. What these people fail to realise is that a) I’m not a performing seal, b)  I don’t create poetry on command (unless it’s a commission, which is a different matter entirely!), and c) this request becomes incredibly boring and predictable really quickly. As lovely as it is for people to show an interest in my passion, I don’t necessarily want to showcase my poetry in the middle of a party…and not just because my level of inebriation has caused me to forget everything I’ve ever written.

Coming out of the poet closet/garret has, however, reinforced the notion that we all have a unique selling point; something that differentiates us from the next person, making us alluring to friends and strangers alike. Sometimes we may have to look a little further or search a little deeper to discover it, but I truly believe that everyone is interesting in their own way- whatever their passion. Of course there will alway be people that we don’t get along with; that’s just human nature. Yet, even if they’re not likeable, in my mind, there’s still at least one element of each person that is interesting- whether they’re a poet or a philistine!

In celebration of this, my admission that I am actually a poet, and the fact that another one of my poems has just been accepted for publication, I thought I’d share one of my previously published poems, which I wrote when I was at university. It’s not related whatsoever to anything I’ve just been waffling on about (though it does consolidate my point about not wanting to spout poetry in social situations; it would kill a party atmosphere completely!), yet I’d like to share it anyway. Hope you enjoy!

Superstition

In the cupped palm of your hand,

your love line creases into a smile

that’s not for me.

An omen in itself,

and still my tulip buds

in extravagant yearning,

straining for the sun,

searching, searching.

Over my shoulder, apple peel

curves into an initial that can

never begin to spell your name.

A euphemism,

but still I sense

its implicit meaning,

superstition overwritten,

fading, fading.

Inside of me, a flower

defies nature, inverts itself,

becomes nothing.

A loss within myself.

And the peel writhes

into a curious ball of misery,

widowed of a name,

grieving, grieving.

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