Today I received a notification from WordPress of a new like for a poem I wrote in April, “Take Off.” This particular like did a few things for me. It reminded me that I have been remiss in writing my blog this past month. I have allowed myself to get bogged down in I don’t even know what, but I have also been spending some time revisiting and revising stories and poems as well as writing new ones. Hopefully, I will have something to share with you soon. However, that reminder was not the only benefit of the new like. Of course there is the gratification of hearing that someone likes something you have written. We all crave that, do we not? Why else would we blog, if not to be heard and interact? Without that desire, we could write and simply store our writings on our hard drives or in desk drawers. But writing is about communicating. This particular like spoke to me in that it sent me back to the poem I wrote in April. And as I have been experiencing this summer, rereading and revising are an important part of the creative process.
When I received the notification that “Take Off” had received a new like, I immediately thought of the poem, or at least I thought I did. I remembered a poem in which I compared starting a new career later in life to a plane readying for take-off. I remember writing the poem; I remember what I was thinking and whom I was thinking of when I wrote it. I smiled thinking about that. Then, I clicked on the poem’s title and realized, oops, that’s not the poem that was liked! “Take Off” is a poem about imitation–both good and bad. The poem I was remembering has the words “take off” in it, but the title is “Departures.” So, I reread both poems. And I have to say, I still like them both. Even though “Departures” received no likes on WordPress (though it did receive some small notice on Facebook), I still think it is a good poem. But it is churning in my head now; perhaps because I have reread it and am willing to revise it, I can make it better. Let’s see what I come up with in the next few days!
Rereading “Take Off” also reminded me of the importance of practice and imitation. We learn from those who have gone before us. If we want to write poetry, we must read poetry too. Let’s comment on each other’s poems with something more thoughtful than “I like it.” Though it is always great to hear that, let’s tell each other why we like it. Let’s help each other develop the better parts of our poetry. Let’s also read some of “the greats,” the established poets, and imitate them. Try writing in the style of Wordsworth or Cisneros or Komunyakaa. These may end up being the poems that stay on our hard drives or in our journals, but it is an age old practice to imitate others in order to learn and to find one’s own voice. We cannot stay there in imitation, but we can start there, learn, and then take off on our own.