Poetry used to be fun. I remember learning "Sick" by Shel Silverstein to recite in elementary school. And then in Jr. High, learning "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll. My fellow students moaned about being forced to learn the nonsensical poem, but I loved every minute of it - the way the sounds rolled off my tongue, the images that stirred in my imagination. I've had other fun encounters with poetry - including the publication in an internal newsletter of a poem I co-wrote while working a 24 hour shift at a technology company. I won't bore you with the blow by blow rendition of our attempt to find humor in the midnight tweaking of computer code to the tune of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" - but it was fun.
Somewhere along the way, I lost the fun. Partly because in poetry, I found an expression of the deep, sometimes painful, things within my soul. Poetry became an outlet for the pain I couldn't express any other way. But there is more than just that. Somehow, I became afraid. Terrified really. Ashamed and frightened to be seen in the way poetry revealed me to the world. The fun-loving poetry of my childhood was seen as just that, a children's game. The profound power of poetry to illuminate feelings scared the adults in the world around me, and as I grew older, they encouraged me to invest in more practical endeavors. And I lost the fun.
And now, maybe, just maybe, I'm beginning to find the fun again. The beauty. The power. Without the terror. It has taken hours of patience and encouragement. It has taken many gentle responses of "beautiful" to the words I've put on paper from people who see me to the depths of my soul and love me anyway. It's taken many repetitions of heavy lifting to build my courage against the rejection and criticism I so fear. But I've made a start. This public forum is my attempt to regain the joy in an art form that came so naturally to me as a child. My wish is that someday a child would read one of my poems, maybe memorize it to recite, and smile.