Despite always having a love for writing, I’ve had my fair share of writer’s block. I used to think something was wrong with me. To be honest, sometimes I’m still questioning. But I’ve realized that, like in all areas of my life, I’m too hard on myself. Luckily, writing poetry has helped in rewiring this mindset and has strengthened my love for writing.
I decided to take ENGL 388 Poetry Writing at Cal Poly SLO because poetry has always intrigued me. Whenever we learned poetry in high school, everyone else seemed to dread it. Not me! I wasn’t sure what to expect for this class, but it’s been one of my favorites. The class consists of asynchronous lectures and reading, and crafting our own poems. We then have synchronous workshop classes, where we read our poems aloud and discuss them. Through reading other students’ poems and messing around with free writes, I’ve learned that just about anything can make a good poem. You don’t have to have some amazing story or out-of-this-world idea. You just have to start writing and allow yourself to change and adapt and flow.
There was one poem I wasn’t so confident about, and I was surprised to hear the class’ positive reaction. I realized that I am capable of producing great work and was simply getting in my head. The beauty of poetry is that it can be interpreted differently by everyone, and that doesn’t diminish it. You can learn what works well by reading other people’s poems and becoming inspired by them. Ultimately, you can do whatever you want: fixed form, free verse, rhymed or unrhymed. I think that is what makes poetry so freeing because you aren’t bound by requirements. The limits are endless.
Not to mention, the value of poetry can be found in the impact it has on other people, which doesn’t always require advanced, elaborate writing. Some of my favorite poems are short and to the point but leave me feeling something. Sometimes simply omitting punctuation or using frequent line breaks can mimic intensity and emphasize certain words. You don’t always have to write long, detailed, and complex poems. Sometimes less is more!
Writing poetry has allowed me to dive into my emotions and even find pleasure in writing about random things. You can write about the same topic but describe it in so many ways, whether it’s through metaphor or imagery or even punctuation, which can be thrilling. But this doesn’t mean you can’t write about things already written about. In fact, something I learned through this class was that nothing any of us write is going to be an original idea. There is going to be someone out there with the same topic. However, we can take that universal concept and give it our own flair. The important part is not that it’s new, but that it’s you.
I definitely recommend this class for anyone that wants to be reminded of both the power and pleasure of writing. If poetry isn’t your thing, Cal Poly also offers Fiction Writing, which is next on my list!