Reaching the Finish Line

I have twice mentioned a poetry project that I’ve been working on. I consider myself a rather mediocre poet. I have a daughter who is ten times better than me, which makes me feel even more insecure. However, when I look at my poems objectively, I think it’s fair to say that at least a quarter of them are pretty good. On a personal level, writing poetry is something that feeds my soul and therefore I will continue doing it even if I have no hope of ever being really good.

This time I attempted something completely new for me—a series of poems all dealing with a common theme. I was inspired by a traumatic event in my family to write some poems dealing with it. I chose a specific number of poems to write based on a detail that is part of the story. I once kept up with a challenge to write a poem a day for several months, and I thought it would be easy to write this finite number of poems, all related to this one theme. I imagined that I’d be done in no more than three months.

How wrong I was. Because, as I said, the event was traumatic, writing about it was also traumatic. To write honestly means to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and feel what they feel. Then you have to find a way to express those feelings in verse. The process is emotionally exhausting, at least for me. And once you have been in that place emotionally, it is ever more difficult to make yourself go there again so you can write another poem. Three months turned into twenty-three.

I was determined to finish before the end of this year, so I could present the collection to a family member as a gift. The month of November left me feeling wrung out and fragile, but I did finish. Last week I printed out the poems, put them in an album, and on Friday I mailed them off. Soon, I will publish them and when I do, I will tell you about it.


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