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Now, twenty-six years, many a poetry contest, and an award or two later, I am honed. As with any blade, you must sharpen between uses. A college Creative Writing course exploded my voice from within. A Journalism class taught me the axiom, "If you find an adverb, kill it." Armed with new ammunition and a burning quest to hunt down adverbs, I began.
The first years of poetry are rather rudimentary. I call it the "Roses are red, violets are blue" phase. When everything you write must contain iambic pentameter. It must rhyme. It must find basic, simple logic. After twenty-six years, the roses are no longer red. Rather, they exude idiomatic fragrance like paint brushes of light, casting bold reflection against a pale hue of violet sunrise.
In my teens, poetry shot from my hands like a daemon. It awoke me from a dead sleep. It beckoned me write every word to flow from brain to pen. I submitted. What else could I do? I'd heard the axiom, "If you don't use it, you lose it." So I wrote frantically. I knew I had to just get it down. I could always edit later. So, I have. You should see my originals with editing scratch all over them. No longer fearful of losing my gift, I've learned it is more a gradual forgetting than the gods stealing it away.
In my youth, I shot-gunned every line. As long as I hit something, I was happy. I've grown more accomplished with my skill. I now use a sniper rifle to target the subject and make a clean kill.
I read voraciously. I write, daily. I even get in a good poem or two. But they are subjects that haunt my soul. Not the daemon any longer, but a weathered sage whose wisdom simply needs to be heard.
How do you find this daemon? Read. Dream. Love. Poetry is the honest expression of your soul. Forget what others say of its worth. Your feelings are valid. Submit to poetry contests. They teach. From them I learned to trim ten page ballads into sixteen powerful lines. In fact, the first award of achievement I received was from a four-line poem. My advice, write. Then, write some more. When you think you are finished, edit. I have often found my best work through detached editing. In this, I can see the words for what they are. I can feel the emotion the writer sought to convey. Then I return to writer mode, and make it sing.
My inspiration has mellowed with age, as a fine wine.
I first gather the grapes (words) at their peak. I then press them (write) to extract the best liquid. I then mix them with the proper agents (editing), put them in a cask (rough draft), and let them ferment. I taste them in sips (re-writes). Then I bottle (submit) them. I open the bottle, and let it breathe (publish). At last, I drink the velvet smooth flavour of passion exuding from my pen. But wine is best when shared. So I encourage you to send a bottle or two of your finest to friends, family, publishers, whomever will appreciate the robust nature of a word well aged.
Here, I share one with you:
Words, like whispers, gather
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