I think that no matter how long we strive toward something, no matter how long we travel or toil for our dreams… there is always a nagging pain in the underbelly, wondering if we are good enough. Depending on the strength of our hearts, we may react in two ways. For those who listen to the uncertainty, they drift away and lose sight of their dreams. They give up and never really know what could have been. Then, there are others, perhaps just as equally uncertain, but there is a fire in their belly that just refuses to give in or give up. They believe in themselves despite also feeling uncertain.
I don’t know if I am different or if I am more alike others who have struggled before me, alongside me, or even those who will struggle after me. I sometimes think we are more alike than we ever are truly willing to admit, but most won’t share the heart of themselves so it is difficult to see. People fear showing their vulnerable side – their weakness, their fears. They fear it says something about themselves or perhaps that it is going to be portrayed in a negative light.
For me, I have scars. I have wounds. I have differences that crawl upon my skin – but I feel that what defines me most, is that no matter what happens, I know there is strength in pulling myself back up and trying again. There is a curious thing I say often about myself, and it is incredibly true… if you say I cannot do something it will most likely be the first thing I do. I will do it – I will do it well and I will ring circles around you too. See, I’m stubborn. I would like to think that is a good thing. It has definitely allowed me to survive and to also grow into the person I am. I also know it isn’t an attitude that you always need to have. Sometimes life is much easier living with someone who always meekly nods their heads in agreement. There are times I might regret it, but I just don’t see that person in me and I’d like to think I have benefited from this attitude.
So I wear my heart upon my sleeve. It is so close to the surface, you can see its pulse. I lay those feelings out there for everyone to see. It’s just the way I am. I don’t like to hide and if I did, I would truly not know how. This is me – in my photography, in my writing, in each and every poem. Though the subjects may not always be personal, I always try to imagine myself in someone else’s skin. What would I do? What would I feel? It is a place that I find curious and amazing. I want to see with more than my own eyes – I want to feel, I want to hear, and I want to live life soaking in all the moments, the stories, the images, the art, the scent of beauty that passes before me every passing day. If I see a flower in a field, I wonder – what is it thinking, how does the summer sun feel upon its face, how does it feel when dew trickles across its skin.
I guess you could say I am curious. I never seemed to learn the adage “curiosity killed the cat” even though I have been told that more than my share of times. It is not that often, though – that I find others wearing the same skin. Fortunately, I have found a few out there, who chase similar interests in similar ways only to also sing in the most amazingly different methods. I think this is what we should celebrate – our translation of whatever it is that we do – not always the method, the methodology, nor the form.
This brings me to something important that I thought I’d share with you. I somehow only recently became aware that many poets do not think free verse poetry is even poetry at all, but prose – neatly typed in smaller lines so as to “pose” as poetry. To me, there is a huge difference between prose and what I do, but I guess everyone is open to their opinion. It’s not like a heated argument is going to solve anything anyway – and I really tire of having to defend the things that I do to anyone. If they don’t like it, that’s okay. Life is not a popularity contest.
I know I am unconventional in the way that I do things – whether it be in the topics I choose to write about, how I choose to write, or the form of the poem. I’m okay with that – really. It has taken a long time to develop the heart of who I am and what I do. I did not start out this way, of this you can be certain. However, over time I really have become comfortable with all of it. I guess I have become so comfortable that I never did realize that others did not feel the same about my poetry. To them, if it does not rhyme… it is not a poem. If it does not have structure… it is just a mess of prose upon the page. Seemingly, it does not take much talent to do what I do.
At first, that hurt. I started to wonder why I bothered to write at all. I wondered if I should ever even consider trying to be published, since most publishers feel that my type of poetry is not poetic at all. But then I thought about all those poets that came before me. Even those forms that many celebrate today as “true poetry” at one point were given birth. Perhaps they were not what people expected, perhaps people did not like the sound of the lines or the rhythm – but it started somewhere. It took time and perseverance on behalf of those who believed in their work to keep it alive. It is only because of those two things and a lot of hard work that we even have the opportunity to celebrate those methods today.
Do I think that what I do is not poetry? No, not at all. I started out with rhyming poetry and I could do it at any moment, if I so choose – but I don’t want to. It is not to say that rhyming poetry is not beautiful, nor to say that it is not poetry (how awkward would that be?) – but this is not the voice I choose to speak with. When I write, I don’t have to worry about other aspects of a structural poem so that I can focus on what I want to say and how I want to say it. Does this mean my poetry has no form or structure? Absolutely not. I do not write in any one particular style, but allow the poem to dictate what it wants to say and how. Sometimes my style changes. What does not change, however – is how it rolls off the tongue when spoken. There is a cadence there, if you search for it – and there are times when I will edit or change a poem in order to fix the way the poem flounces across the page. It is not something I can teach – nor is it something that I can detail, but I know it is there because I am always cognizant of that when I try to write.
I think the biggest lesson that we should learn as people – is not to delineate the beauty of something only by our limited knowledge and preferences. When we do, we truly lessen the amount of beauty we are willing and able to see. For me, I celebrate all types of poetry – no matter how they are written, nor in what style. I acknowledge the beauty of the written word and hope that I make the writers aware that I celebrate them too. There is something special about being able to see what is there – without being encumbered by your own prejudice. In this day and age – we need more of that, in all realms of life, not just poetry.
So yes, I am unconventional. I use lenses that I should not use to take pictures. I have yet to read my camera manual, but I won’t let that stop me from trying to capture the beauty that I witness. I love that I have the opportunity to share that with you and anyone else who stops on by. My greatest enjoyment comes from experimentation, learning by hand and growing as a person and an artist. I don’t always take conventional views – worrying about proper positioning, nor do I worry about pristine, cleaned up images or photo shopped captures of beauty. I don’t mind it being messy, different, or real. I instead prefer to seek the beauty that is already there – waiting to be noticed.
My poetry eases my heart in difficulty, allows me to ruminate over difficulties, touch upon the plight of others so that I may understand them better and helps me understand myself in my own humanness. There is a rhyme and a reason for each and every word – and each and every line. There is a melodic quality to it that I cannot explain, nor can I explain why it is written that way. The poem begs to be written and the words just sing.
So yeah, I know I may have opened up a can of worms – or perhaps someone opened them and passed them to me. Either way, I know what I want to be when I grow up and I am not going to allow anyone to stop me. I put my heart and my soul into every line of poetry I share and I don’t want that – or the way I speak to change. If people don’t consider that poetry… that is fine. I will continue to be the way I am and they can continue to be the way they are. Not everything has to be done a certain way and we’ve had plenty of examples in our own history to know that doing things differently can sometimes be a blessing and a gift.
So if anyone else ever doubts themselves or hears the negative words of others about the artistry they seek – no matter whether it is about poetry, painting, writing, or just being yourself – know that there is never only one right way to do things. And sometimes, being lost, helps you find a better way. From the beginning of time until now we have celebrated those who had a different voice and a different view. Don’t set your dreams aside just because someone told you that you could not do it or you do not do it well. Keep trying – keep striving – and never give up on your dreams. They may never lead you to the spotlight and perhaps you will never receive recognition – but the saddest song is sung when your heart wants to sing your own melody, but instead you follow in everyone else’s song.
© Sumyanna 2017
Written as “real” prose.