On Questioning My Writing Poetry

Poetry…Why do I write it? Why I am struggling to write it, of late? Will I ever able to write it again or was it just a fling? Is there any difference between a diarist and a poet? If yes, which one am I? These are some of the questions that plagued me during my poetry writing funk, at the beginning of the year and with Covid outbreak.

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

Poetry is my first love and my first choice of self-expression. Loving it and being my first doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always easy to write, far from it. Perhaps, like first loves the magic is in my naivety of thinking I’ll always be the centre of its attention.

Anyway, during that time I caught up on some reading, other poets as well as art and creativity, at large. I also came to a new realization about my own writing, and as follows:

1. Sometimes I’m a diarist

It hit me, when Billy Collins popped up on my computer screen advertising his masterclass and saying, “Poetry is a diary you want to share with others.” There it was, the source of my writing paralysis. To be honest, I was writing but I just didn’t feel liking blogging my poems or drafts. Perhaps, it was a result of not getting instant gratification (blog comments and community support) that made me feel as if I wasn’t writing.

2. How to be a poet!

I have Wendell Berry’s How to be a Poet bookmarked for listening on days I need a good reminder on how to simply Be. Not the names I call myself or titles given by others, because they can distract.

3. Embracing the season

I’ve mentioned before Wild Words as my go-to writing blog. So, naturally during my writing funk, I went back to the very first episode, and listened again. Because it was important to embrace the liminal space I was in.

4. On being suited to my calling

There is a chapter in Rachel Friedman’s book (pictured below) where she states that it takes time to find out whether one’s personality aligns with their passion. I certainly didn’t have to think hard about whether I’m suited to my “calling” as a writer.

But I did give a fair amount of thought on whether I was “holding [myself] up to a particular type of artistic identity” instead of being flexible and allow myself to explore other forms of self-expression and storytelling. This book, by the way, is a good investment.

5. I simply won’t stop writing poetry

When self-doubt creeps in, I remind myself why I write poetry. I also revisit some of the kind and generous words from readers, who get my writing. Because feedback like this carries me through, when I ask myself “What’s the point of it all?”

But enough about my insecurities as a writer. Instead here’s a question if you are a creative, what kind of artistic identity do you stay true to? Mind you, this is not to put you in some box. But perhaps a reminder to re-examine the “thread” that ties your work together, and stay true to yourself.

Staying in the Light

I meant to write about the moon, in summer. But rain, a tiresome stop-start and repetitive lock-down, saw me pluck an Asian bleeding-heart. With deaths, near-deaths and diagnoses so close to home, hands had clamped and ink dried up.

But October is always rich and full. Harvest moon saunters in on the first day, and emerges blue on the last as it hallows the ground and ushers a new month. As shadows scream swallowed by darkness so typical of November, I cling to Astraea’s embrace and departing words, “Stay in the light!”, for they say this winter will be hard.

– for Poets and Storytellers United, Writers’ Pantry

For the Love of Podcasts

A lot of people listen to podcasts because they want to learn something and be entertained along the way. ~ Alex Blumberg

I’m one of those people mentioned in the quote above. I love learning new things or hearing more about what I already know through conversations. And if I can laugh along the way, that’s a bonus. Podcasts, especially, afford me the opportunity to listen in order to understand than to respond. I love that immensely. And so, below are some of my favourite podcasts:

1. Audio Poem of the Day

I used to receive a poem a day through my inbox. When I couldn’t keep up with reading, I switched to the audio version. It’s less effort, and I enjoy listening to a poem before I start my day.

2. Wild Words Podcast

Wild Words by Nicole Gullato is one of my go-to writing blogs. I absolutely like this writer’s approach to writing and creative life. Nicole believes that a writer’s life is lived in seasons, and she explores this topic in her podcast.

3. The WISER Podcast

The WISER by Wits University is a scholarly podcast. If you are not a scholar, don’t let that discourage you. Because from a variety of topics and depth of conversations, you’ll surely gain more insight and perhaps on things you never thought to investigate.

What initially drew me to this podcast is my need to stay informed about South African literature and current discourse. For instance, through this podcast I discovered a South African writer, Noni Jabavu. A writer, I’ve never read but share some similarities with, “I belong to two worlds with two loyalties…” I hope to share more about my experience reading her work in some future posts.

Some of My Favourite Podcasts

4. Songwriters & Original Songs Podcast

SOS by John Nicholson is a fairly new but delightful podcast about making music; a mix of conversations and songs. The host chats about songwriting and original works with songwriters, and for the benefit of a wider audience. In fact, if you are a musician or songwriter, John is currently looking for collaborations to feature in his upcoming episode. Interested in chatting about your work? You can find John’s email from the Facebook page!

5. Michelle Obama Podcast

A friend who knows that I’m a huge fan of Mrs O introduced me to her podcast. I’m always eager to hear what she has to say. In this first series, she chats about relationships that make us who we are. What I love most about this podcast is her accessibility; the way she demonstrates, by being herself, that we all are rich through relationships we have with our loved ones.

So, I hope you take some time and check out these podcasts. And oh, I do dabble in podcasting myself as you can see in the image above. But how about you, are you a podcast fan, producer or both? I’d love to hear what conversations interest you.

Occasionally, I share five random things I’m reading, watching, doing, listening to or thinking about. If you know someone who might benefit from this post, tap the share button!