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  • Rylee Conn

Beginning Poetry: At Least I Tried

I've always been the weird art kid. It's my title. I've always created funky art or funky photography. Up until my mid-teens, I would try my very best to write the next Great American Novel and was a regular NaNoWriMo participant, which went pretty badly. But, I've always been drawn to, and flummoxed by poetry. Why? For someone that had creativity and weird art ideas come magically to them, poetry was a whole different beast, a beast that used big, flowery words to refer to mundane tasks, and was almost impossible to come to naturally. In English, I would create half-hearted poems and struggle with creating a rhyming scheme that wasn't cat, hat, bat. How could this be so difficult? I'd then give up on it for a couple more years, while I regularly attend slam-poetry events and wish that it could be me.

There were several things that inspired me to truly try out poetry: although her writing has become seen as cliche, simple, pedantic, and a whole lot of other adjectives, Rupi Kaur's reading of "Milk and Honey" made me reconsider giving up on writing poetry. I was initially captivated by seeing a fellow woman-of-color become famous for her poetry, and began digging deep into her published poetry and her poetry published on Instagram. Rupi's writing, to starter poetry readers and writers, makes poetry seem less aggressive, scary, and flowery. Some would say that's a negative description, which I refuse to believe. Her poetry also got me to search for several other famous person-of-color poets, such as Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes, who are historically renown in the Black Literature / Black Poetry communities.

My biggest problem with writing was the self-degradation and the expectation that my work had to be flowery, full of double-and-triple meanings, and have 30 different internal rhyme schemes. Additionally, I was terrified that people would judge me based on my poems not being flowery, super angsty, and full of flowery prose that felt like I was degrading back to the days of shopping at Hot Topic for shirts with sad sayings and emo MySpace status updates.

I began, as most things shouldn't begin, after a 3 hour layover from Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and a dose of nighttime cold medicine. The first thing I said after I got off the plane would eventually be my title for my first poem I've ever made public, "it's 3 dollars for gas?" this sleepy utterance set off the "time to write a poem!" spark that I had waited months, if not years, to cultivate. I scribbled it down in a notebook, adding and removing lines here-and-there in the middle of the night. After a week, I found out my college was accepting admissions to it's annual student art gallery. Did I feel comfortable enough to submit this NyQuil hazy, sloppy poem? The answer was: no. I didn't.

I spent the remaining weeks before the submission deadline pruning lines from the poem, while still cursing the "natural poets" who didn't write awful, emotional, flowery lines, whose poems came to them naturally and who didn't have anxiety about sending their poetry to student art galleries. Eventually, after several tears and even more panicked consultations with my "natural poet" friends, at 11:58PM, 2 minutes before the deadline, I submitted with shaky hands my first ever finished poem. And do I still feel like I'm a bad poet and a poser, and that I will never be on the level of the Beret Girl from An Extremely Goofy Movie? Yes. Yes.

But most importantly, I tried. It's still up in the air whether my poem will be accepted into the student art gallery, but at least I tried my best and went out of my comfort zone. I hope this inspires someone who's teetering on the edge of "my poetry sucks" and "all poetry sucks" to at least try. First attempts aren't pretty. My first, second, and fifteenth attempts aren't pretty, but at least the sixteenth attempt looks better than the first attempt, right?

My poetry is posted on my poetry Instagram at @malosvibraciones. There isn't a whole lot posted, but eventually I'll feel comfortable enough to post everything I write.

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