I’ve been avoiding doing this for a while. Almost ten years in fact. It has been a decade since I first discovered poetry—probably a little later than most in truth. No longer an angst ridden teenager but still angst ridden, I was in my early twenties and the right side of a university arts degree—not the usual or most direct route to a love of verse and crafted, written word, but then any route will do.
As William S. Burroughs once said, and very much after the fact: every writer fears the amount of bad writing he will have to do before he does any good. And I really did some bad writing.
Long hidden at the bottom of a box and I long hiding from it—notebook after notebook of poetry and wild-eyed, stream of consciousness writing. Best forgotten but compelling like a car-wreck, they are the rubber-neck memoirs of a tortured youth—page after anguished page of over-wrought, over-thought poems, almost poems in truth.
With the benefit much bad writing written I can discern a semblance of a poetry in the output of this younger self—a single sentence or stanza attempting to take flight, but that is all. The seed or germinating idea for a poem is present, discernible just, and the formative experiences certainly are or were—the messy, moving stuff of life clamouring for poetic expression, but the ideas and emotions are never fully grown, written down in full.
Aim, concentration and focus are all wanting badly in these poems, scattered in the winds of distraction, perhaps personal dis-function as well; lost before the wisps of substance and meaning could bind together and form.
If my poems had been written consciously they would be great art—if the compelling, true to life back story, clearly discernible now with the benefit of time was actually present on page—but alas such is not the case. Instead they are the reflection of the artist as a young, very young man, but not a true or worthy portrait—words writ blurred and myopic, pen tripping over clumsy mind, spilled out without thought as page over page of stumbles, heart scribbled in the margins, wanting to be found.
I really can’t believe how bad they are—how bad I was. Melodramatic emotionalism without restraint, turgid, vapid—subtly but a dream, the shores of sensibility—and just plain sense—a long way off. Exhibits of an obsession with fruitless self-analysis, and a futile search for meaning in the mud of mental and emotional obscurity.
Thank God I got over myself. Thank God I stopped writing poems about myself.
If I was perhaps different
Then what would I be?
Would the life I have lived
Then mean nothing to me?
What road would I travel
And where abouts would I go
My journey now falls behind me
Ahead nothing I know
Whatever you know
I know something better
Whatever you are,
I am something more—
You torment me, torture me
rage on within me
But your torrent of noise
is your weakness
O cornered ego
O delusion and distraction
Your angry shouts and wounded howls
invoke a death from which you can not hide.
You, not I.
Update: From one brain to another, although hopefully not so tortured, check out the Monday Poetry Train at From My Brain to Yours.