When I was a teenager, I wrote poetry. Well, maybe that’s the wrong word. It was half-baked doggerel chopped up into lines that showed how really angsty I was, man, and how no one understood me. You know. Teenage stuff. I scrawled in notebooks, filling endless pages with such nonsense.
I grew out of it of course, like so many do. We regard our juvenilia as a source of embarrassment. Items made when we were still learning to exist. So I stopped writing poetry after the first year of university, lacking the inclination. I tried to carry on for a bit but as I grew out of the angst and awkwardness I left the habit behind. I regarded poetry as something I used to do, a childish habit. Now I am a man I have cast off childish things and all that. I still read and enjoyed many poems, but did not write them myself.
So it is with some surprise that as a twenty eight year old man, I find myself writing verse. I did not expect this.
There’s been a couple of things that have reignited my interest. Firstly, Ross Sutherland’s excellent Imaginary Advice podcast. Each episode is unique and different, veering wildly between funny and surreal. Some episodes are poetry, others short stories. All of it is worth a listen and I urge you to go do so. What got me thinking about writing again was the behind the scenes advice he gives, such as how he wrote specific poems. Some are surreal mashups using a dictionary, others more heartfelt. By breaking down the process, I felt like I could do it myself. I found my fingers itching for a pen. I found odd phrases running across my tongue which I duly wrote in a notebook and did nothing else with. But I didn’t start writing yet.
The Edinburgh Fringe was artistically fruitful for me, reigniting my love of theatre. It also opened my eyes back up to poetry. I went to a free night ran by the Edinburgh book festival. It turned out to be Tongue-fu, a brilliant mash up of improvised music and spoken word. The performers would give a sense of the tone of the piece to the band, who would make up music as the poem was read out. It was everything i thought poetry wasn’t- modern, alive and incredibly vibrant. It wasn’t people reading in darkly lit cafes or waiting for hushed silence. It was a riot. I loved it. Best of all, I came out of the night thinking “I want to do that”.
A few weeks ago, I cleared out my room at my parent’s house. I found stacks of notebooks with scrawled poetry in them. I reread a few. Mostly, they were terrible. Of course, what was I expecting? But there was one that wasn’t bad. I started to work on it again.
In idle hours, I have recently picked up my pen and started to write again. This time, I don’t feel self conscious or angsty. It’s a simple pleasure to see the words drip onto the page. To see something new take shape. I have started to send it places. I plan on recording some and performing it. Coming back to poetry after all this time feels like coming home.