Poems?, Writing

“Happy” Poetry Isn’t as Easy as It Looks

I used to read love poems quite often when I was in the early stages of becoming a writer. They’re like the introductory section of a textbook. Simple, yet sweet, using basic literary devices in a way that’s easy to comprehend. It’s what everyone writes first. And that, in and of itself, is the problem.

Love poems are where a fair amount of writing clichés originated. Her hair was strands of gold. His eyes sparkled like the sea. Their love blossomed like a rose. Somewhere along the line, each and every cliché was original. Perhaps a bit too beautiful, for everyone started using them in their poems and writing. Writers today are faced with the ever-growing challenge of coming up with original metaphors, putting a new spin on old clichés, and making their work stand out.

That’s why happier poetry and stories aren’t as easy as they seem at first glance (the good ones, anyway). Behind every emotionally-charged, powerful, thought-provoking love poem was a writer who struggled to find a way to convey their feelings in a way that hasn’t been done before. I suppose that’s why sad, painfully-beautiful poetry is easier to lean towards. If you’re good at depicting scenarios and crafting your language, you don’t have to necessarily think of an unconventional way to talk about pain. Why? Because no one likes to talk about pain.

But people love to talk about love.

I leaned on depressing poetry in my class last semester, partially because I knew I could do it and partially because it was what I had to do. It’s true what people say about writing being cathartic, about it’s ability to help get past trauma of any sort. But now I’ve exhausted that part of my mind. I don’t have it in me to write about terrible things. At least, not as much. I don’t want to anymore. I want to write about love and nature and everything cliché. I’m ready to challenge myself.

Lately, with my boyfriend abroad in Montreal this semester, I’ve been having fairly nice dreams about him. Granted, I’m sad whenever I wake up because they’ve been terribly realistic, but it occurred to me: I could use those sad feelings to turn a piece of work into something relatively happy. It’s a nice in-between transition to the ultimate challenge.

The pieces I’ve written haven’t been exactly about love or the butterflies I get in my stomach whenever I know I’m going to see him soon. I’m aiming for work that’s geared toward raw emotion, the ugly-beauty that comes with being distanced when in love. The crying, the soaked pillows, the longing for another kiss. I’ve found myself struggling for comparisons that both convey the feelings and imagery I want without crossing the line into the same old stuff.

And on that note, I’d like to share one of them. I only started attempting this work yesterday, so it’s nowhere near the perfection writers strive for. But I’m going to try writing at least one poem a day, posting one every week or two, in an attempt to see my work grow and change with practice. After all, I won’t get better at a genre without sitting down and actively trying, right?

Through dusty blinds
shimmers a ray
of golden yellow mixed
with bird calls and power drills.

From my dreams, I stumble
to find that you are not beside me
nor in front of me,
but miles away

where the only things that can touch you
are thoughts sent
from my soul.

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