Why Poetry Isn’t So Bad

Taylor Jablonowski extols the virtues of poetry and how it’s helped not only her writing but also herself as a whole.


There are two things that have always been true about me:

1) I’m horrible at being a girl.

My struggle isn’t about being feminine, it’s more about my reactions. I’m terrible at feel-y things because I grew up learning the typical male response to everything.

When I’m sad, I’m pissed off.

When I’m confused, I’m pissed off.

When I’m let down, I’m pissed off.

I don’t get mad at things, I get mad at the way they make me feel and Hell will freeze over before I admit that I actually want to cry like a little girl. I can’t tell you how many of my relationships have failed because they’d buy me flowers after an argument instead of just getting out of my face for twenty minutes.

Which brings me to:

2) I write poetry.

I wasn’t writing brilliant sonnets at eight-years-old, but whining through poetry is something I’ve always done because my dad’s motto was “I’ll give you something to cry about”.

I never showed what I wrote to anyone, until I was ten–my parents divorced, and a poem I wrote about it won a competition at school. I was mortified, beyond humiliated that my friends were reading about how I FELT.

I love spending time alone. I’m an introvert, but very rarely am I shy. My favorite hobby is being embarrassing, and I usually can’t leave the house without telling a dick joke a little too close to a mom and her kid. Eloquence is something I severely lack on the outside, so when I tell people I write poetry (which, up until a couple of years ago was never) the initial cringe is tangible.
“Oh,” is always the reaction. They smile, and try to act just interested enough to be polite, but not so much that they risk me reciting odes to an orgasm I had in a back alley. (Which, dad, if somehow you happen to read this: this never actually happened.)

This is okay, because most of the time I don’t like to share my writing. What I wish people would understand is that you don’t have to write with the intention of winning a Pulitzer.

I write terrible poetry constantly. I’d say 80% of what I write is immediately thrown out. This isn’t time wasted, though; most of my favorite lines of poetry are from murdered pieces. They tell me that I’m on the right track to figuring out how I’m genuinely feeling. A poem that I’m sure is going to be an angry one sometimes turns in to a nostalgic thank you.

I started sharing my poetry because it’s the most effective way to show people how I’m feeling. It’s where I’m most honest. If I can show someone how I work out my problems, it becomes a little easier for me to be open.

I think everyone needs to at least try utilizing poetry as sort of a self-directed therapy session.

You’ll learn to feel when you’re forcing an emotion. You’ll become more deliberate in your word choice–not just in your work, but in everyday life. You’ll learn to put yourself in someone else’s emotional state.

Sometimes you’ll instantly feel better, and sometimes a line loops all day in your brain. Sometimes you’ll get so frustrated, you’ll stare at a blank word document for an hour, then fuck it all and watch South Park instead. There will be nights when you swear to God you wrote better poetry in elementary school.

Don’t be worried. Poetry is your friend, and these are times she’s giving you a gentle nudge to just go live a little. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Get drunk. Get drunk, take a walk and bring home a stranger. Do anything but get discouraged, because the biggest upside to embracing poetry is that sometimes the horrible things write beautiful pieces.

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