I don’t really know how to start this article, so for the sake of simplicity, I will start from the beginning.
Growing up, I was the child that no one could quite figure out. My family and close friends knew me as the kid who had a tornado of passion stirring inside of her, but my school teachers knew me as the mute kid who wouldn’t peep a word…like ever. All the bullying, identity struggles, and racism I endured in elementary school forced me to suppress every feeling I ever had in fear that it might be rejected, and before I knew it I was living two different lives: one at home, and one at school.
Eventually I met my best friend, who was also a minority in my primarily white school. It took a few years, but I got out of my shell and started making an identity for myself. I choreographed a Bollywood dance for the talent show and invited all the girls in my grade to participate with me. That was my first experience of wholeheartedly accepting and being proud of who I was, because for the first time in my life, I felt like I had the power to make my mark.
Middle School was when I first started writing poetry in an attempt to find my voice, and sure enough that’s exactly what I ended up doing. I started out writing poetry about nature, summer, and all things reminiscent in a small white journal that I got for my birthday that year. Then High School came around and I was introduced to Slam Poetry. I competed in my first poetry slam my freshman year which went really well, and that is when everything changed.
Immediately after, I wrote a plethora of poems with themes ranging from nature to eating disorders to racial injustice. There wasn’t a topic I left behind, because I knew that, having dealt with a lot of internal battles myself and seeing my friends go through the worst experiences of their lives, I had to share my perspective. I started competing in class, school, and district slams, winning them one by one, and progressively discovering myself.
However, this article is not supposed to be an autobiography or an informative piece. In fact, it is supposed to be persuasive, which is why I am providing a list of lessons that writing and performing poetry taught me in an effort to inspire you to dabble in some poetry!
What Writing and Performing Poetry Taught Me:
- Feelings come to life when written on paper. Poetry has helped me filter out my feelings in such a healthy way. Sometimes, it is hard to express exactly what you are trying to say or express your exact opinions in everyday conversation, and poetry is a great way to express those opinions and feelings in a less intimidating way!
- Confidence comes with practice. I can easily say that I have had a minority-complex in the past and poetry, especially performance poetry, has taught me how to be comfortable with my voice, my words, and the way I present myself.
- Poetry is universal. No matter what you say and how you say it, it will be interpreted differently depending on the person. After I perform, there are always people who will talk to me about how my poem affected them and it always varies. Poetry is not definite, and it has so much more depth than we assume.
- Public-speaking isn’t that bad when you like what you are doing. Public-speaking used to be my worst nightmare and at first, performing poetry was nerve-wracking, but I have learned that public-speaking is actually kind of liberating when you are genuinely not afraid of judgement, and that comes from being secure in what you believe in.
- Being empathetic can be a blessing and a curse. I am an emotional person. I was, I am, and I always will be. I cry over everything, and I feel strongly. All that is great when your passion is literally pouring your heart out on paper. The only problem is, it can be draining on your emotional health. Poetry, although therapeutic, can sometimes be overwhelming as it truly connects you to your inner self. If it is getting to be too much, just know that you can take a break. Your poetry isn’t going anywhere.
- Crossing between ideas, images and words: Poetry, as cliché as it sounds, creates parallels that I never thought were possible. Images can be brought to life and ideas can be expressed in ways that are truly magical.
- People struggle all around us. A lot of people believe that poetry is unnecessary and that it always exaggerates emotions. But poetry puts emphasis on emotions that some people are in dire need to release and get out of their mind. Everyone has different struggles and it is so rewarding to be able to write poetry that touches so many important topics.
- There is beauty in everything. Lastly, writing and performing poetry has made me realize that there is beauty in everything around me: the folds in my shirt, the dent on my car, and the space in between the letters of the words I write on the piece of paper lying in front of me. Everything around me has a purpose and that is a remarkable thing.
If you learn anything from this article, I hope it is that poetry is worth trying, and no, it does not have to rhyme! Contrary to popular belief, poetry is whatever you want it to be, as long as it means something to you. It does not have to be about nature, or racial injustice, or anything else that I mentioned writing about. Write about what you are passionate about and let the pen lead the way. Trust me, it’s life-changing.