Like many I fell for a Facebook trend recently which consisted of posting your senior photo in support of this year’s graduating class. I don’t actually have my senior photo anymore because it was a few years ago, but I do have my old yearbook, so I pulled it out and took a pic of my old photo. And posted it with some encouraging words for this year’s seniors who are basically missing out on a pretty fun part of their lives while we take our corona break.
But I started thinking. Was that post more about me than it was the seniors? Probably. I mean, I looked good at 18. We all looked better than we do now, let’s be honest. I got a lot of nice comments on the photo, too, and those are always good. But how in the hell was it supposed to make today’s seniors feel better?
So, as an act of contrition, I wrote a poem, and not just any poem, either. An Italian sonnet, which is widely regarded as a difficult form. Here goes:
Happy May Day! I remember one particularly happy May Day in elementary school when our art teacher arranged for us to dress up in white and perform a maypole dance. I loved the pretty dress I wore and the colorful ribbons we wove around the maypole (which was actually a flag pole, I think). I’ve always thought it would be fun to do that with my kids, but I guess—like many fun things—the maypole dance is actually sort of a pagan ritual.
May Day and pagan rituals aside, I have completed my own ritual of writing a poem a day in April, and I am actually quite happy with the results. I learned a lot about poetry. It’s a totally different style of writing than writing prose, and especially different from writing a novel. I think my sense of rhythm improved this month and I know I got better (or at least more daring) at rhyme. But what really surprised me was the sense, when I completed a poem, that I’d created a piece of art. Like a sculpture or a painting. Much more so than when I write novels.
I don’t think it has to do with the length of the story. I believe it’s the skill required to combine rhyme, rhythm, structure and story all in a compact nature. Though I can write a poem in a matter of minutes, it requires more thought and planning than you’d think. So, in a way, it’s like sculpting words.
As it happens, I didn’t love every poem I wrote last month, either. But I am happy to note that I only resorted to a simple haiku three times, one of those being Easter. I chose haiku style for the three stanzas of “Headline Design” on purpose, but I don’t think it was a simple haiku. I’m not sure which is my favorite. Possibly “Living in Eden” or “In Over Your Head”. It’s hard for me to like “Self Portrait” because it feels sort of—too revealing. But at the same time, I think it is good. I really like “Beverly Cleary 101”, too.
So that’s it for my poem-a-day-thon. But I think I’ll still post poetry on here from time to time. And I definitely plan to keep writing it. That sense of accomplishment at the end of each poem is too satisfying to give up!