It starts with a process. I memorized the writing process for the first time in elementary school. I skipped some of its most important parts as I rushed to finish 15 page papers in high school and college. I’ve taught this process to adults deemed unready for college level classes so that they would finally be fortified enough in confidence and skill to make it through a freshman English composition class.
There's a writing process that school didn't teach you...the process of self-discovery,finding voice,and finding purpose.
Brainstorm. Write a draft. Revise it. Write another draft. Edit it. Write a final draft. Turn it in (Or publish it). That’s the process we know, but there’s another type of writing process that is much more important than this one. It is the process of self-discovery, finding voice, and finding purpose.
My poetic process started with a revelation.
I haven’t always accepted the poet side of my identity as a writer. I listened to a lot of published writers, literary agents, and publishers say that people don’t read poetry anymore, and that made me want to distance myself from that part of the craft. I’ve always wanted to succeed at writing fiction, and I felt that my time would be better spent perfecting my fiction writing skills and working on the concept for a novel. I allowed myself to believe that poetry only had a life within the spoken word movement, and while I admire spoken word artists, I didn’t see myself as a spoken word poet. My type of poetry is mainly meant to be ingested from the page. Or so I thought.
Through social media, I’ve been introduced to poets who have defied what the publishing industry says to have rich careers as poets who combine visual and performance art with verse. They have sold thousands of copies of their poetry books and are highly requested speakers at universities, conferences, and other literary and creative events. Jasmine Mans, Alex Elle, Rupi Kaur, and many more have shown me new ways to be a poet in the 21st century. Millennial poets must be part poet, part performer, part visual artist, and all magic. They must navigate technology with the same passion that drives them to navigate through words that they handpick and weave into sparkling webs of imagery, emotion and truth. All of these things make me excited about my identity as a poet.
Poetry is something that I’ve naturally been drawn to since I was about five years old. In middle school, I started writing some of the poetry that will be included in my upcoming collection. Over the years, I’ve written close to 150 poems and I’m still writing them now. Inspired by strides that poets have made through social media, I decided that this is the year that I will publish this collection of poetry. I am currently in the process of writing a few new poems along with introductions for each section.
My poems typically start as one word, a phrase, or sometimes even a full line. Poetry can describe nuances in emotion that are hard to capture in prose, so poetry is what I tend to turn to when I have a fleeting feeling that I don’t have a lot of time to get on paper. I allow the image that I see in my mind plus the way it makes me feel guide the poem. I don’t stop until I think that image and that emotion are adequately captured. Sometimes that takes a few minutes. Sometimes that takes days.
This process gave me the theme of the collection that I am working on, which illustrates the coming of age experience of black girls and women along with the struggle for women, especially black women to live authentic, loudly colored lives. Each section represents a period in a woman’s life, from girlhood to life as an elderly woman.
This is where my poetic process has taken me. Where will yours take you?
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