Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “Any word, every word in language, every circumstance, becomes poetic in the hands of a higher thought.” This is what I love about poetry—that words can become new simply by placing them in a fresh context or assigning them an unexpected meaning. I enrolled in a poetry course this past semester because I wanted to become a student of poetry. This art form has been a major part of my life since I began writing poems at age seven. My initial audience consisted of my parents and extended relatives who—although educated and capable of recognizing good literature—were biased. When I was around eleven or twelve and started reciting poems at local arts festivals my confidence grew. People who had never met me before expressed their excitement about what I wrote.
As I have grown older I wanted to tackle more difficult subject matter than the nature scenes and flowers I usually wrote about. I wanted to learn how to revise my poems to make them more refined. Most of all, I wanted to be a student of the art I longed to master. Writing poetry would never work well if I didn’t understand how to read it. So, I decided it was time to study it formally.
Over 16 weeks I read poets I had never heard about, learned the intricate auditory techniques of the written word, and work shopped my classmates’ poems. I also received valuable personal feedback from my professor—a published poet herself. Our class engaged in diverse, often spirited, discussions on poetry. I grew close to several of the students in my class with whom I would talk school, poetry, weekend adventures, and share food. And something else happened: my poetry improved.
My excitement for writing new poems is stronger than ever and I am eager to share my words with the world on the stage in campus open mics. Among the butterflies in my chest there is hope and confidence in my art. There are stories in my soul, waiting for poetic language to set them free.