I began to write in primary school. My mom and I had some great laughs while we came up with these words for my homework poetry assignment:
An insect I am,
Living in a dam.
I sing a song,
While swimming along.
Of hungry birds I’m afraid,
For they will eat my head off!
Then I will no longer be so cool
Sitting by the pool.
I’ll be very dead,
And without my head!
There was also an Afrikaans poem I wrote in primary school – just as short.
One of the first times I ever felt good about writing something was in primary school. We had to write an explanation for what happens when a persons yawns as well as when a person coughs. I came up with some great imaginary ideas! The remark my teacher left after marking it was: “You must become a story writer!” When I read that, I felt amazing. Up until today I don’t know whether that remark was sarcastic or meant to encourage me, neither do I know whether I had to write scientific facts or fiction. The important thing is, I felt good!
I always enjoyed English as a subject. Even when we learned about all the different tenses by writing pages and pages about the dog chasing the cat and the cat chasing the mouse! Hahaha!
Grade 7 is where I developed a real passion for words. I was part of the English 1st language class. I loved it and learned a lot about using metaphors, similes and personifications in my essays.
We covered Shakespeare and there was a poem that impacted me deeply. I fell in love with poetry’s ability to paint such a big picture with only a few words.
During high school there were times when my heart felt ripped to pieces.
One of those times I grabbed some paper and began to write one long metaphor about what caused my heart to ache so badly. In short I used the image of a river, the rocks I bump against, thorns growing on branches, and so forth.
I guess that was the first time I put my own emotions to paper. Through writing that poem, I experienced emotional relief.
After that poem I wrote many more poems, as a way of dealing with or expressing the things I experienced in my personal life. Many of these poems no longer exist because they were very depressing in nature and also because the circumstances changed.
I attended a poetry workshop presented by Diana Ferrus. There are a few things that really stood out for me in this workshop which I just briefly want to mention.
Diana wrote poems dealing with her childhood and the emotions she had to deal with as a child. She read one of her poems that described the anxiety of a child waiting for a drunk parent to come home safely at night.
During one of the sessions we recited the poems we wrote during the workshop. My mom wrote one on abuse. As she read it, she became very emotional. Diana zoomed in on this and told us about how emotional she was when she first shared her poems but that it can bring hope, healing and restoration to listeners because it is so real.
Diana taught us several things about the technicalities of poems but her focus was mainly on the stories behind the poems – the reasons we pen down those poems.
Diana is a warm and caring person which made an impact on my life.
One of the best parts of the poetry workshop was right at the end when she asked us all to come and give her a hug to say goodbye. We stood in line and hugged her one by one.
I believe that this workshop challenged me in some ways.
Over the years, my writing developed and I no longer write with the primary purpose of easing my pain – I write to create awareness, to teach, to awaken purpose, to express my emotions, etc.
I write because I love it and because it is a fantastic tool which can be used in so many ways! Poetry is a form of therapy.
Why do you write?
How did you start?