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William Haskins
02-09-2006, 07:14 AM
why do you write poetry?

when did you start?

who are some of your favorite poets, and why?

02-09-2006, 07:26 AM
I started writing poetry because of serious depression when I was 13.

02-09-2006, 07:43 AM
Because prose doesn't always feel right for the story I want to tell, for the emotions that I'm feeling. Because it helps me get down things I can't articulate out loud or even in prose. It encompasses so much - love, despair, desire, hate, betrayal - so cleanly, so prettily.

Seventh grade. Or thereabout.

who and why?
Margaret Atwood; I loved her greek-myth based stuff
e.e.cummings; it's just fun
shel silverstein; for being innovative and cheerful yet deep
Emily Dickinson; blame my Emily-obsessed English teacher for infecting me
Shakespeare; because.

Anything I find in my lit book that's half-decent. The poem 'Slipping' and 'Blackberry Picking'.

02-09-2006, 08:26 AM
My first venture into poetic thinking was a song I wrote after my parents gave me a guitar. I was about 8 or 9.

There's a bird
In the sky
He has no wings
He cannot fly
He is alone
He is alone
He is alone
He is alone
Now this bird
He has no friends
And soon
He'll meet his end
He is alone
He is alone
He is alone
He is alone

My parents had invited a couple new to the neighborhood over to dinner. My sister went and told them I had written a song, so my father, who loved us to entertain, asked me to sing it for them. He spit up his scotch, and to this day, I can see the shocked expression on the faces of this couple.

I wonder how this bird could've been "in the sky" what with no wings and all. Oh, my God!

02-09-2006, 10:45 AM
I wrote my first poem at 18, simply because there was a contest at school. I was already writing fiction at that point, so I figured, "Why not?"

My favorite poets are T.S. Elliot and Robert Frost.

02-09-2006, 06:26 PM
Writing poetry for me is a way of conversing with the world around me. I believe we all have thought responses to everything and everyone we come in contact with. But, I also believe that we actually have very little opportunity to express our self in a significant way, such that those thoughts are affirmed and responded to in a significant way. Anytime we find an avenue to self express in a difficult world, by nature, we do it. It might be graffitti, a song, a painting, a baby's cry, we are beings built to express thoughts and feelings. We are by nature communicative and when that is not given an viable outlet, we will find or make one, it's unstoppable. Even the introvert must express. For me, poetry is one of my mediums. If I believed in what my paintings said, I would be a painter, as well. For me now, my new venture into photography and other writing genre are becoming an extension of that self expression. God willing and the creek don't rise, by the time they close the lid on me, I hope that I have discovered a good-size portfolio of ways to self express, to capture thought and tell it what I think about it. In the meantime, I'm just scratching around, seeing what I can come up with.

I've come to believe that the highest standard of a civilized society is one that can express itself in a healthy, constructive manner and allow others to do the same.

I apologize to all the writers of the world, I'm not good at picking a favorite, or remembering their names, or what they even wrote. I don't mean to be disrespectful. For me, something has to be for the moment. And, I don't read to get to know the author, I read to get ammunition to live. I want to say thank you to that collective conscious, for that universal well of wisdom that continuously resurfaces and sustains us. My apologies for not keeping your names significant. They're all mushed up in my head.

02-09-2006, 09:45 PM
why do you write poetry?

I'm afraid I'm not a poet, but I've come to realize the beauty in poetry and admire the way it can inspire feeling in a reader. I write poetry as an exercise becuase I've come to the realization that it is a useful, no, an essential tool in a fiction writer's repertoire.

I often use poetry as a way to get into "character" when writing about something, a sort of exercise, and it helps me to identify common universal feelings and markers that help me to touch feelings in other people who can then identify with what I am trying to say.

A successful writer must learn to transmit their ideas to others with the written word, and fiction is all about transporting others to another world, a dreamstate of your own making.

I see that poetry does this in a sort of supercharged way with brevity, clarity and beauty.

Hence I dabble.

when did you start?

Just short of a year ago. I decided to subscribe to The Writer's Almanac ( http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/ ), after reading a recommendation on another forum - it sends you a poem every day through email. And I was struck by how the writers had been able to evoke feelings in me with their poetry. I highly recommend it.

So then I figured: "why not?" And posted my first poem here. I mean, it's the internet - they can't hunt me down and burn me at the stake, right? (Right?!?!?)

Plus, none of my friends will know, hehe. If they found out, they'd most likely revoke my Man-Card - after the stoning, of course...

who are some of your favorite poets, and why?
To be honest, I don't really have any favorites and haven't read that much poetry outside of what's posted here and what I get everyday in my email. It's another one of those things to do on my infamous To-Do list...

02-09-2006, 11:14 PM
Danged if I know what happened! I have this thing about paper. It attracts me to touch it, and pollute it with pen or paint. My sister gave me a leather bound journal with a smashed buffalo coin for a snap. (I was about twenty, many years ago) I caressed it for a while, smelled it, opened it to creamy thick paper. I could hardly wait to write. First poetry about lovers of course, then poetry about what I was pissed at, soon ink drawings and the die was cast.Favorites, oh my gosh to pick one. You are one William, and Ray, and Cassie and on and on, so many here. I have no 'favorites.' I will say I will buy any Sylvia Plath and am happily buiding a collection. I just finished The Bell Jar beautiful story written like a poem. Annie Proloux, she writes stories like poetry. Her Wyoming short stories are great. I just saw Brokeback Mountain. Astounding! So much good work, so little time.

02-09-2006, 11:35 PM
why do you write poetry?

I write because the words won't stay inside. Something seems so right about painting the pictures of my mind.

when did you start?

Some time in elementary school we were introduced to poetry. I have been writing ever since.

who are some of your favorite poets, and why?

I don't have any reason for reading poetry other than how the poets' words speak to me. I am not sure I have any favorite poets, more like favorite poems.

Just a few:

Sylvia Plath - Black Rook in Rainy Weather (this is the one that started me on the Sylvia Plath road)
Maya Angelou - A Brave and Startling Truth
e.e. cummings - who knows if the moon's
Audre Lorde - From the House of Yemanjá
John Clare - Crows in Spring

02-10-2006, 02:35 AM
My Story

I started writing poems in elementary school. In fourth grade, the kids asked me to write a poem for our teacher's birthday card. Later that year the teacher asked me to write a poem for Flag Day which I had to read in front of the whole school along with a representative from each class.

Why poetry? It's a concise expression of emotions, observations which helps me deal with life and sometimes has a deep emotional effect on other people, too.

I've never had a favorite poet; but I admire many poets.

02-10-2006, 03:16 AM
I cannot play a musical instrument of any kind, have no sense of rythm, am tone-deaf, and have the vocal ability of a Budweiser frog. I always had a dream of possessing at least one of these abilities and poetry gave me the illusion (at least to myself) that I did. First poems were to my mother because I found out early on she preferred them to store-bought things - and we had no money. A stupid child I wasn't. Now I am old and, you know what, my wife likes my poetry also - along with diamonds, emeralds, 24 carat gold trinkets. Whenever I enclose a bit of my poetry in the same box as her new diamond earrings she always tells me the poetry is also nice.

Emily Dickinson - Robert Frost -

02-10-2006, 05:36 AM
I started writing poetry about a year and a half ago, when my son got sent to military school. One day I just started 'thinking' in poem...it was strange. I was stressed out, and my husband took me on a mini-vacation to the beach. I sat under a palm tree and wrote almost 30 poems that afternoon.

I write it when I start thinking it. I usually write in response to a deep felt emotion about something--though sometimes I write goofy poems just for fun. I have found that I'll often write it first thing in the morning, and then it's usually devotional poetry.

Favorite poets include John Donne, George Herbert, and Christina Rossetti. Guess I was just born in the wrong era ;) .

02-10-2006, 11:41 PM
I started writing poetry at the age of 12. very childish rhymes as you can imagine, and it was because of a girl. "the one that got away". i havent and dont normally read much poetry, except the ones posted here, but i do like Elizabeth Jennings, Robert Browning and so on. i actually stopped writing for 3 yrs, when i was 17, and only started back last year. well thats me...

02-12-2006, 07:23 PM
To quote BF:

"A successful writer must learn to transmit their ideas to others with the written word, and fiction is all about transporting others to another world, a dreamstate of your own making.

I see that poetry does this in a sort of supercharged way with brevity, clarity and beauty. "
(sorry, the quoting thing didn't work on my reply)

I have to say- I'm a lot like Brokenfingers. I'm not a poet. Never seen myself as one, unless you count the "Weird-Al"-ish things I do with song lyrics to amuse my friends or people at school.

Recently, however, within the past few months, I have begun to "get it", though. To have such a command of the language and evoke meaning and feelings with a single word shows such amazing talent and just a gift for communication. Takes a lot of discipline- especially for me- the babbler of prose to even attempt it.
One of my aides at school- her grandmother died in August. I work in a small town- my principal grew up there, and I found out that the grandmother, an African American lady, had been the children's librarian for the town. My principal shared wit me that she broke down a lot of barriers for him- her family was one of the only black families in this small Central Texas town- tough stuff to stick around- and not so long ago. I had never met her, but knowing her granddaughter, and knowing how her life affected so many around her, I was inspired. I wrote a poem. That was my first real one. Perhaps I'll get some guts and post it one day.

I attempt again now and then- like I did for the V-Day contest. Most, though, I am too self- conscious to even share or post. Or I take them off, once I do post. The best ones are the ones that just come out right the first time, when the emotion is there, not the filter.

So, I'm still learning.

My favorite poets? Still not familiar with enough. My reasons for liking guys like Emmerson or Thoreau are because of their "historical figure"-ness, not necessarily their poet status. Need more research there. I do like Rhymegirl's stuff I've seen. Oh, and Poetinahat's BOY AND HIS TACO is wondermous. I respect everyone here who has so much control over their words and can just make one moment in time work so beautifully. I am a subscriber to a poem-of-th'-day email thingie- just to see what else is out there. And, I was UIL coach at my school this year for the ORAL READING team- we had to do a lot of poetry research for this, and lots of fun poetry exercises with the kids. Really- nothing teaches you more about a subject than having to teach it yourself. Those kiddos are gold- taught me something every rehersal date, every hall passing, and each moment of the meet day. For them, I will forever love Jack Prelutsky, Tedd Arnold, Shel Silverstein, and Daniel Kirk.

02-12-2006, 09:26 PM
Why do you write poetry?
To express myself. The prose that I write comes from a desire to create, which is slightly different to self-expression, I think. Poems are far more concise than novels; they concentrate on particular incidents or feelings, at least they do in my case. Novels tend to be centred on particular characters, or events stretched over a far greater period of time, and are also in the main, fiction. Poems often have a huge dollop of real life in them.

When did you start?
As a very young child, when I discovered some words rhymed with others. I wanted to see if I could 'tell a story that rhymed' and I've been at it (steady!) ever since. I like to think my poetry has matured - even if I have not!

Who are some of your favorite poets and why?
Wilfred Owen. I'm half in love with him (even though he's dead and was gay). The way he expresses the futility of war with such a sense of...not romance, but...beauty? It makes me ache with jealousy, wishing I could write like that. Wendy Cope makes me laugh and think, "Yeah, life's like that." Roger McGough, too. Funny and true at the same time. There are so many poets I love. One of Owen's contemporaries, Siegfried Sassoon, is another one I love. I seem to go from one extreme to the other - war poets and comedic poets. Go figure. Maybe I write poetry because to me, life is hilarious and terrible at the same time.

02-12-2006, 11:17 PM
I started writing later in life at 40 when my back went out and had to retire. My doctor suggested I take up writing because I was so depressed with it all. It has helped some, except for the rejections, of course.:) I've been writing love poems which I enjoy writing the most.

William Haskins
02-13-2006, 12:48 AM
why do you write poetry?

this was a trick question on my part, and i refuse to answer it.

when did you start?

around the age of 8. the musicality of language had already made an impression on me, having been exposed to a pretty broad range of music and some excellent children's poems. in the 3rd grade, i read poe for the first time, and suddenly had a deep appreciation for the narrative power of poetry. that wasn't to last, really.

from there, i sought out the romantics first, and being something of a world book encyclopedia junkie, i was soon threading together some interesting chains of names and work... this person influenced that person, who collaborated with that person, etc.

by high school, i had formed a pretty significant mental image of the timeline of poetry dating back to ancient greece and rome, through the medieval work of european and eastern writers, and into the modern work of the early 20th century poets. the first couple of years of high school were spent in careful study of various types of formalism.

by the time i was 16 or so, i discovered a wealth of outlaw poets, rimbaud and apollinaire, the beats, bukowski. i rebelled (pretty much permanently) against formalism at this time, and moved into a useful period of experimentation (useful in what i learned, not in what i produced).

in my 20s, i wrote stuff that was highly personal, full of the vanity and myopia of youth. this is a shame, really, but a rite of passage, i suppose; the good thing that came out of it was that i achieved some balance between totally rejecting formalism and some ability to inject it in such a way where it served, rather than governed, the work.

in my 30s, i moved into another period of experimentation, this time closely examining the function of poetry, the effect on the reader. this became an obsession of sorts, and something i ultimately became extremely conflicted about. the theory that implicitly motivated me was that the poem is a quite separate thing when written from what it is when read.

the easiest way to explain this is the methodical, even mechanical approach of someone who makes those "optical illusion" paintings. there is no real transfer of inspirational energy, no pure emotional connection. the painter is a cynic. he is creating something to be seen in a quite different way than the elements of his "art" provide. if successful, he can short-circuit your consciousness, and make you see a mirage.

this is where the conflict comes in because it is, at the end of the day, a highly manipulative way of creating. but if the artist is content to pull this trick and the viewer is content to see the illusion (he has to know there's a "man behind the curtain" but he is willing to suspend his disbelief), then no one's hurt, and it's an entertaining relationship they've established.

fairly recently, i've moved away from this approach and tried to move into something that's more purely shared between writer and reader, but it's like taking baby steps again.

who are some of your favorite poets, and why?

t s eliot (because of the waste land)
robert graves (because of his grasp of mythology)
dylan thomas (because all poets have a streak of the mountebank in them, and he wore his as a badge of honor)
emily dickinson (morbidity is an important aspect of sanity)
e a poe (see above)
sylvia plath (*flutter*)
arthur rimbaud (sacriligious and bold and angry)

02-13-2006, 12:15 PM
I don't know why I am following William in this thread. That's like the cigar girl getting onstage after the headliner.

Answers, not in the order they were requested:

When: I began writing poetry as part of mixed-media pieces when I was making a transition from painting to sculpture. Honestly, I don't know why I thought the work needed a text element; it just came from the air, and there it was. I'd always had an interest in writing, but my concentration on visual arts took all of my time and energy. But the mixed-media work led to an interest in writing for its own sake, which led to writing for pay, which led to full-time writing. So you could say that poetry led me to where I am now.

Why: Because it's there? I don't know how else to answer that. For many years, I've been plagued [and I use that term loosely] with poems that come to me as I fall asleep. My husband says that I should have a tape recorder by the bedside, but I don't think that would help because I hear the words when I am hovering on the edge of sleepfulness. In that weird waking-sleeping moment, they flood my head, and I get the poem in my mind .. and for a moment, I feel like it's this magical thing ... and then I fall asleep. And the next day, I never remember those words. I think the "why" is that I'm searching to recapture those lost poems.

I don't write too much poetry now, though I have been writing some as part of my WIP [novel]. I hope I'm bringing that sensibility to the longer work without boring the pants off my readers.

Favorites: I'm not well-versed enough to name many. I've been a Shakespeare fan for a long time, so I feel comfortable with that. And Sylvia Plath makes me sit up and feel—and seems tinglingly familiar.

02-13-2006, 04:11 PM
It's a form singularly meant for re-reading and re-examining. You don't just read a poem once; you pull it out, shine it up and roll it in your fingers every now and then. You get close to it; maybe you look at it several times a day for a while. You put it away, forget about it, and move on to totally different things. You never quite forget it, and you come back to it years later. When you pull it out again, after all that time, it forgives you and lights you up just like it used to. Like that worn-out copy of Led Zeppelin II.

I want to feel that way about what I write.

Sporadically, since an absolute crap effort for the high school poetry magazine. Rejected, and rightly so; it was as pretentious and abstruse as I could make it. Subsequent efforts were doggerel: personal tributes for friends and such.

The AW denizens woke me up; being here has made me want to be good at it. It's a thrill to read something one of you has written and think, "That's brilliant. I never would have thought of it that way, but that, I'll remember."

W.B. Yeats -- Dignified and passionate. Shows me that you don't have to choose between the two.
Oscar Wilde -- Lush and deep, though he'd deny the depth on principle. Impossibly beautiful language.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti -- Whimsical, unstructured, fun.

02-14-2006, 02:22 AM
why do you write poetry?

Because if I didn't, I am afraid I would cease to exist.

when did you start?

Third grade, I think, maybe fourth. I wrote off and on during high school. My muse faded during college and the early years of marriage and motherhood, but it returned just in the nick of time, after my baby died and I thought I would die of misery.

who are some of your favorite poets, and why?

I like a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and a whole lot of in between. I'm an anthology addict. Most of the poetry I like, I like because it makes me feel.

And in case you're wondering why I almost never post here, I'm not sure I have a sufficient answer for you. I used to belong to a poetry forum where I posted poems and critiqued poems every day, then I belonged to a site where I helped judge poems for a contest, so I guess I got tired of being "critical" of my poetry and the poetry of others, and wanted to start writing for myself, not for the public. That's me in the corner, except I'm not in the spotlight losing my religion, I'm just sitting here quietly writing poetry. :)

02-19-2006, 01:35 PM
why do you write poetry?

when did you start?

who are some of your favorite poets, and why?

I write poetry because it allows me a different type of self-expression than my prose.

I started writing poetry shortly after my hubby and I began officially dating.

I love Emily Dickinson's work because I didn't expect to like it at all.:)

02-19-2006, 08:45 PM
Why? I just cannot help myself. I started writing in 92, prior to that it was always just a collection of different lines and words that came to me scribbled down on anything and everything.

Tennyson and Keats are my favourites. Tennyson in particular just moves me so completely, I drink in every word and come out of a night with a collection of his works a more relaxed and intune self. Utterly amazing and inspiring man he is. Such majesty, I could not do him justice with praise.

02-20-2006, 09:21 PM
why do you write poetry?

Because I can't not.

when did you start?
4th grade

who are some of your favorite poets, and why?

Edgar Allen Poe--technical perfection, beautiful sound
Alfred Tennyson--moves me deeply
Alexander Pope--cerebral, thoughful, argumentative poetry written in beautiful, perfect couplets
John Donne--wow. wow. Nothing like it.
George Herbert--moves me
Rumi--emotionally moving, inspires thought, creates longing
Stephen Crane--pithy and powerful

02-20-2006, 10:40 PM
Why? I guess as a new intellectual challenge. I think the necessary care and creativity in word selection and phrasing may make me a better overall writer. Also, with prose, in most cases it's necessary to capture a reader with a story. With poetry, it seems like it's more about capturing myself, then turning me loose (kind of like a catch-and-release stream--no barbed hooks here). The best part, different readers can sometimes see different things in a poem, so it's meaning can be shaped by the readers' experiences, which blows me away. Now see the next question to put this in perspective...

When? Aside from a brief stint when I was going through a divorce about ten years ago (results are probably not worth much, but were packed with emotion), William's Valentine's Day contest brought me to it.

Thank you, William!

Who? I'm reading a few of Shel Silverstein's poems to my five-year-old son every night as he settles in bed. It's as much for me as for him. Falling up and throwing down caught him right away.

02-20-2006, 11:51 PM
why do you write poetry? Because.

when did you start? A long time ago. Second grade. At some point, probably around 19, I stopped imitating others styles and started constructing one of my own.

who are some of your favorite poets, and why? Wow, um... in no particular order:

Poe - He stirs my blood. His rhythm and word choice will forever keep me in awe.
Oscar Wilde - For making me think about things I always thought I shouldn't.
Lord Byron - Because he knows the language of love.
May Sarton - She knows nature and how to put you there.
Yeats - I can never seem to get the tune of his poetry out of my ear.
T.S. Eliot - For so much more, but mostly these lines from J. Alfred Prufrock:

For I have known the all already, known them all -
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

Aghhhh - So many more...

02-21-2006, 12:11 AM
Like drama, girls also liked poems. So, it seemed like a natural to p/u girls in high school, you learn the vernacular and produce a good poem. Eventually, sure, you had to make lateral moves to flowers and chocolate, with vertical moves to dinners and jewels, but a good poem usually, umm, as the Cracker song said, "let the river flow." Poetry is also economical -- a ruled sheet of paper folded and handed across the room (or tucked secretly into her Pee-Chee folder) was free. Other forms of instant womanifcation were not.

Most of my favorite poets are song writers: Tom Waites ("All my dreams fall like rain"), David Baerwald ("She's ballerina and she rises with the sun, puts her leotard on and does her exercise") and Sting ("He killed a brindled calf in the pale moonlight, he prayed to the sky but he prayed in vain -- heavy cloud but ... no rain"). I'd also put the lyricist of a band called the Screaming Jets (Australian) for a song called "October Grey." John Legend's got some fantastic lyrics. So does, for that matter, Neil Peart of Rush (he writes the lyrics in his basement while the other two play volleyball; once the lyrics are done, they score the music together).

Poets-that-earn-a-buck-writing-poetry poets include e.e. cummings, William Wordsworth, Anna Akhmatova, T.S Eliot and Charles Bernstein.

02-22-2006, 09:05 AM
Why do I write poetry?

Poetry is a way to express my feelings and thoughts. It is away to deal with some of the pain I sometimes feel along wit hthe joy I have in my life.

When did I start?

I was 16 when I began to write poetry. I was a freshman in high school and had a lot of thoughts and feelings I couldn't share with anyone and poetry is how started to free them.


One of my favorite poets is Edgar Allen Poe. His poems are so mysterious and intriguing that I love to read them. Then there's Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson. They're such an inspiration to poetry, I love reading there work.