Taking a crack at poetry

This is my second week in the College of Poetry. It’s very enjoyable, but it saddens me that I don’t have much to say in the conversations about the poets and when exchanging originally written works.

The first week, we spoke about T.S. Eliot and read his poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” I won’t forget the irony that was infused into this poem: a man who looks genteel on the outside, but there is something about him that lets the reader know he’s not what he seems. The poem explains he wants to take a woman to a seedy hotel in the beginning, but moves on to describe his worries about his looks (especially his comb over). It’s definitely a poem of contrasts: the conflict with oneself, the desire to be someone else vs. the desire to please society and preserve your own outside image.

For the first poetry assignment, we were given three writing prompts. I chose one of them, which is to write a poem that would adopt a “persona” that at first seems removed from the writer, but in the end the persona is reminiscent of the poet. I wrote about the deer, and here’s the rough draft of it:

The Deer

Its sleek legs take her across the forest.

Its paws ripping through the orange, red and brown leaves.

Its skin sensing the dropping temperature of the outside air.

Its heart beats faster with each step it takes.

It turns its head, seeing which forest corner it could hide into,

Away from the familiar strangers in her home.

She turns a forest corner and dashes into open space –

Freedom at last?

Where she sees a lumbering steel monster

Zoom towards her.

The steel monster collides into her.

The deer feels her skin strike against eh ground

Her mind knows she can find no escape.

After a week struggling with what to write (I wanted to write about a ladybug, but eventually decided to drop the idea), I came up with that poem the morning of Oct. 24; that afternoon, I had my second College of Poetry meeting. At our second meeting, we talked about vernacular poetry, the type that’s performed in slams like Def Poetry Jam. I’m not very good at the vernacular stuff – I mean, using slang and speaking in public. I’m a poet on paper, not a performance poet. Kudos to those who could recite the beautiful poetry during slams, even without reading from anything.

The teacher gave us got three poetry prompts for us to work on based on the theme of vernacular poetry. The assignments are due on Halloween, our next meeting. One of those prompts is to write about a current them, like advertising or politics. I’m writing about the silliness of fame and the sources used to feed the whole concept, including tabloids and reality shows. Despite the strong emphasis on education — in which it’s not uncommon to hold at least two college degrees — one could still catapult themselves to “superstardom” with a reality show and their names splashed throughout the tabloids. All the while proving themselves as useless to society.

That poem is still in progress.

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