EN3310, Professor Innocenti
July 1, 2000
“I hate poetry”! I said under my breath as Professor Innocenti discussed the syllabus with the class. Her presentation suddenly blurred as I went into a Walter Mitty trance and imagined myself autographing my most recent best-selling book of short stories. A long serpentine-line of old, blue-haired ladies wrapped around the fiction section at Barnes & Noble each waiting her turn to meet me. “Next,” I said to the young, attractive woman with reddish-gold hair who seemed out of place in this horizon of blueberries.
“You must re-create the experience. Give concrete, sensual detail. My father slammed his long knarled hand on the table,” she said, pinning her hair the color of corn-silk behind her right ear, a private place she has reserved for a lover’s warm breath. It was Professor Innocenti bringing me back to reality as she explained how, My father was angry, might be shown and not told.
The short venture into my sanctuary from reality had not completely muffled the professor’s words of wisdom, as I somehow remembered how she described the hard work required of any writer. I also recall her mentioning that to write a poem, short story, or novel, a process of lengthy revision is necessary if a writer has any hopes of constructing a good piece.
As I prepare for the last week of the semester, I can say without equivocation that it took a huge commitment of time, hard work, and perseverance for me to begin learning the proper way to write short stories. But I am now convinced that having learned the mechanics of writing poetry, I have established a base to enhance my writing skills.
How else could I have learned that by keeping a daily journal, a personal reservoir of knowledge would be created for my use only? This knowledge pool allowed me to explore the world of poetry as I continually dipped into it for words, phrases, and descriptions that would become the seed of a soon-flourishing poem. I gave myself permission to become weird as I experienced the freedom of expression while learning that some words stress while others unstress. Without poetry I would never have explored my potential to write about the things I experienced when using my other senses--smell, touch and hearing.
I am embarrassed to admit I once believed that the ending of every sentence in a poem had to rhyme. Now I laugh as I use slant rhyme and purposefully emjamb sentence endings to enhance the meaning. I write most of my poems in iambic meter, while occasionally nastily attempt to rattle a reader’s senses with a litany of spondees, so as to create illusions of deliberateness.
I feel better prepared now to recognize potential problems that I may encounter when writing poetry, such as appalling abstraction, archaic diction, or anonymous voice among others, knowing well that I can easily fall prey to them. Knowing what takes place when a poem is written has enabled me to better understand and appreciate poetry.
This new enlightenment about poetry has also fostered within me an appreciation for other forms of writing, specifically, short stories. The more I learned about the romance and rhythms of poetry, the more I wanted to write about the romance and rhythms of life through short stories. I have finally discovered a way to release the monsters that had invaded the inner sanctum of my mind, perpetually tormenting my well-being.
I have learned that the more short stories I write, the more I’m aware of the need to begin them with a powerful hook. I don’t want the reader to put my story down before my characters have entered his psyche just as the monsters had entered mine. I can’t ever recall a time when I cared about a story’s point of attack much less about who the narrator is or in what tense it is being told. I can now hear my poems and short stories as if they were alive.
The first day of class Professor Innocenti gave her students an opportunity to say a little about themselves. I remember revealing that although I had done a lot of writing in my lifetime, I felt as if I were still an apprentice. Considering everything that I have learned in this class, I feel comfortable in saying, I am now a well-informed apprentice, and as such, can begin my journey into the real world of writing. Maybe one day I will be able to sit before a horizon of blueberries as a young attractive woman pushes my best-selling book in front of me for my autograph, while pinning her hair the color of corn silk behind her right ear, and I whisper, “I love Poetry”!