How I started writing Poetry

Poetry is something I took up just a few years ago. I was in the 8th grade at the time. Prior to 8th grade, I’d always liked the subject of English literature. I was also inherently great at it(my mother is literally an English teacher!!). But it never really struck me as something magical until one unforgettable day.

I remember the exact moment I fell in love with poetry. It was during my English class, and that day we were doing a reading and explanation of the monumental verse by the name of “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. Our teacher was a new one for me, and I hadn’t quite decided if I liked her. After all, this was only the second chapter in our book. She surely was different from any I had before. Even the naughtiest backbenchers seemed genuinely interested during her classes.

The poem itself was quite short, we did a reading and then got right into the explanation all in the same period. Something about the poem hit me in the face, right from the very first line. The poem overflowed with anguish, a sense of rebellious peace, and the overall happiness of a risky choice paying off well. But we didn’t stop just at the poem. My teacher continued the discussion, painting a picture in which all of us had a say. We spoke about our choices, the way the poem was worded, the clever way it portrayed feelings. It didn’t feel like a class at all, but a sunlit ground where all of us sat and spoke about anything we wanted. In afterthought, I’m very amicably reminded of this scene in the movie “Dead Poets Society”, where Mr. Keating leads all the boys to an unexpected outdoor class.

How could just one page of words, one man’s expression on paper provoke so much thought? How could someone else’s words make me feel their dilemma as if I was living it myself? It impressed me, as I truly understood how powerful words were. How enchanted they were. And almost immediately, I wanted to write something myself. But I didn’t have any big impending emotion in my life!

That’s when I learned(courtesy of my English teacher, once more), that poetry can be about choosing between pizza or pasta and yet sound profound because poetry, can be molded to anything. I sat down and wrote my first proper poem that night(a reimagination of Frost’s poem itself), remembering every single hard decision I’d ever faced and channeling all that anxiety into my words. Surprisingly, it didn’t just come out beautifully, it also relieved me in a way I’d not known before. It was the relief of pouring out emotions on a piece of paper. I don’t remember the exact words, but it went something like-

What do I choose,

how can I say,

The cloak of night,

or the light of day

Yeah, pretty dramatic, I know. Well, that was middle school me so there you go.

I remember the exact words my English teacher said when I showed her my very first poem, with the wide, impressed eyes of someone who truly loves language.

“I don’t know what you were thinking while writing this, but this was amazing. Very beautiful.”

And thus she, along with Robert Frost, had sparked poetry in me. My art has grown over the years. I’ve read so many more things, written so many wildly different things. My tastes have changed, becoming darker and my writing more confessional than ever. Yet on a day of standstill, I still go back to that atmospheric moment, when another poet’s words, and someone’s honest compliment, set off a storm of words within me, that has since been untamed.

7 thoughts on “How I started writing Poetry

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