WHEN INSPIRATION STRIKES: Poet finds it difficult to write for an audience
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Sophomore Gabi Alvarado, who enjoys writing, will blog biweekly on the origins of her creativity and artistic vision.
I’ve been writing poetry as long as I can remember. I think I’ve been writing since I first learned what a poem was.
I loved when, in lower school, we would memorize poems like “Dreams” by Langston Hughes and “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost. When I read those poems, they made me feel something. They made me aware.
I think the job of a poem is to force the reader to experience a certain emotion or memory. But when I wrote poetry, I wrote for me. I didn’t write poems to convey anything to readers; I wrote because I needed to form something from my own feelings, be they resentment, sadness, anger and longing, or hope, love and happiness.
Now, the poems I appreciate most are those that offer a different perspective, that shake me up like a snowglobe and set me back down on the table to let me find my own way to settle. I appreciate poems that charge me with an emotion that is only partially my own and also, in part, alive in the words of the author. And when an author can say definitively that they have written a poem that so moves its audience, that’s when they can call themselves a poet.
Since I’ve always written for myself, I’ve never had a problem with rejection. If someone liked my poem, I would be glad because they found something of themselves in the poem; that’s why they enjoyed reading it. If they didn’t like the poem, I was fine with that too because I didn’t write the poem for them.
I think I would find it incredibly hard to write well for an audience, to make them feel better or to help them understand something. In my experience, people generally don’t like changing their minds or admitting to a fault in their kaleidoscopic view of the world. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, to see the good in people. My kaleidoscope is very colorful.
I wrote the title of this poem, “Simply Periwinkle,” while listening to a song called “All Shades of Blue” by Gregory Alan Isakov. I hope that you, dear reader, can put yourself in this poem, sitting on a park bench next to a dogwood in full bloom with your love or close friend. I hope that as you read this poem, you can feel the light breeze and the soft sun as it hits your skin. I hope that, for a moment, you can feel still and content, simply existing in the poem.
For once, the sunlight hits her softly.
The waves of her hair are layered in their depths.
She sits on the public park bench with you.
You drink a hot cup of something, studying her.
You have but one purpose in this moment.
Her body presses lightly to yours.
With her legs crossed, her thigh is almost resting on you.
Her waist is in line with yours as she bends down, writing.
You can feel every slight movement in her shoulder:
With every new paragraph,
Each new word.
A cool breeze shifts her hair into her face.
She pauses in her scripture to move it back.
As her trance breaks, she looks to you.
You surround her, your arm draped over her shoulder on the bench.
The sunlight shines tentatively in her eyes,
Just enough to illuminate them,
Just enough to make her eyes seem endlessly deep.
And, as she drinks in the smell of your hot drink on this chilly morning,
Her eyes shift out of focus, and you take a sip.
She bends her back once more and resumes her delicate penmanship.
A white flower petal falls at your feet.
These seasons are long;
You’ve spent many together.
But here, now, could be forever.
—By Gabi Alvarado