I have two kinds of poems in the pile: those based on a truth, however faint and hiding behind paint and glitter to make it more interesting, and those based on nothing. Often the nothing verse is technically better because I wrote it in school, carefully, for a grade. One of my nothing poems that I’ve lost now was about a beach in Rhode Island, where I’ve never been, and the professor, an acclaimed poet, said it was good. When I revealed the lie (because someone said the color of the water was wrong), he laughed and gave me an A. I felt good about that back then; I don’t now. (I wish I still had that pome however.)
The reason my poetry was often based on lies/nothing in the early years is because I hadn’t done anything yet. I hadn’t gone anywhere. There was no drama in my life, no big heartbreak. The poetry professors agreed with me that poetry could be fictional; only other students thought this was breaking some rule. I never questioned my own stance back then, since the professionals were on my side. And yet… and yet…
I’ve changed my mind, at least with respect to my own work. When I reread my old poems, I immediately know which is which. The false verse is hollow and dead on the page, no matter how “good” it is. It has no emotional resonance to me, no layering. But when I read one of the truthy poems, I feel the truth again, however old and buried. I know exactly what inspired me to write that pome. Of course I don’t know what someone else would feel reading it (maybe nothing ~ maybe they’d feel more reading one of the false verse poems), but the point is that I know.
I haven’t written false verse since I began writing poetry again several years ago. No matter what I write about now, something in the pome is true, even if it’s just one line or one emotion. These aren’t just words strung together for a grade ~ they actually mean something. Also, the old pomes I poast here for my loyal blogfans are the true ones only. No false verse for you.
Happy May! ❤