I have tried many different art forms over the years. Music, dance, painting, writing… And ironically enough, despite it being the art that has stuck with me the longest and arguably means the most to me, poetry is the one I have struggled with the most. Music doesn’t expose you in the same way. Dance doesn’t let people in to that extent. A painting can be interpreted in many ways, but doesn’t necessarily alter other people’s perception of you. But poetry? Poetry leaves little room for privacy.
I wonder if it’s just me who feels this way about it? I’ll probably never know. But for me, poetry is so personal it hurts. There are times when I just want to take everything down, shut down the site, and go into hiding.
All my life I’ve been chided for being “too emotional” (whatever that’s supposed to mean), and perhaps that’s the problem. Perhaps it’s just that poetry brings all that to the surface I’ve struggled to suppress. All the feelings of alienation and isolation and the distance there’s always been there between me and my friends, family, co-workers… Poetry doesn’t allow me to fake a smile and pretend to be fine. And that’s difficult to accept. Difficult to face. Sometimes just reading the poems myself can be a challenge. But you know what? At the end of the day, it’s probably the poetry that helped me stay sane. It gave me an outlet, when other people didn’t want to deal with who I was or how I felt. It gave me a voice I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
But unfortunately, for years, I tried to silence that voice myself. Even in my poetry. I tried to sound like somebody else. To tone down the feelings underpinning the words. To put a distance between me and the poems. Which made the poems shit, in my honest opinion. And it certainly didn’t do my mental state any good either, as I so needed to express all that I was denying myself the right to say.
But now… Now I’m finally reaching a place where I can sound like myself and feel confident enough to do so. My last few collections have brought me a lot closer to, well, me. And the next one is an honest attempt to purge all negativity from my system. It won’t be pretty. But at least it will be honest.
What has changed? I’m not sure. But I think that, maybe, I just got older. I just got tired of always having to worry what other people think about me, instead of doing what feels right for me. Worrying what others think of what I have to say, instead of saying what I feel needs to be said. Tired of trying to change myself to fit a mould I cannot fit unless I chop off vital parts.
Tired of reading the poems and not recognizing my own voice.
And so, finally, I came to the conclusion that there was no such thing as “too much”. Raw emotions made the poems tick. Made them jump off the page. Made them memorable. At least to me anyway. Without real feeling, what even was the purpose of writing them down? Just saying something to say it, and not because it meant anything? That was never what I wanted.
So, ultimately, I am reaching a place where I care less and less. Other people scream at the top of their lungs all the time. Assert their right to speak, even when they (often) have nothing to say. Why shouldn’t I get to speak my mind as well? Even if that mind works in a “language” as convoluted as poetry at times…
After reaching that conclusion, I went thorugh this entire site and looked at all the content with fresh eyes. Took some poems down, published some new content. Scheduled publication of the next collection. And decided to, just for once in my life, be proud of myself. Of what I have accomplished. I have written a massive amount of poetry over the last ten years, some of which is even good, and most of it isn’t even in my native language! I have translated a large amount of poems too, and I know from the response I have got, that the translations mean a lot to many people around the world.
I am so much more delicate in the way I express myself than most other people in this world. And yet I still worry that I might share too much, be too much, say too much…?
To Hell with that.
My pledge for the new year is to definitively come out of hiding and exult in the sound of my own voice. In the rhythm of poems written straight from the heart. However tearful or shrill or passionately over-the-top they may come across. To be as painfully honest about what I feel like saying as I possibly can. Because I owe that to myself. And I owe it to my poetry.
The first next poetry collection is scheduled to appear one poem a day starting February 1st. Consider yourselves warned. 😉
May 2021 be a fresh start. I’ll endeavor to make it so for myself anyway.
Thanks for your time. 🙌