Location: PROSE > Poetry
Eilee has been writing poetry since the age of nine. Here’s how she explains:
I’m the youngest of three kids. When I was little more than a toddler, my mom, tired of talking baby talk to her kids, showed me a dictionary. She showed me how to use it and worked with me on Phonics to be sure I knew my alphabet, diphthongs, compound vowels, and told me that language was the key to almost everything important in life. I started out with a child’s dictionary of course, but graduated to the college version soon enough. By the age of eight I had a formidable vocabulary rivaling that of most adults. Mom had lots of other books, which included fascinating storybooks from Alcott to Kipling to Zola, and a thick poetry anthology entitled, “The Best Loved Poems of the American People”. It had categories for any mood: Humor and Whimsey, Animals, and Love and Friendship became my favorites. Just as I had reacted to seeing art, I read others’ words bringing thoughts to life, that magic of making something from where once there was nothing, and I thought, “I want to do that.”
At nine I had begun my first fledgling attempts at poetry. It was the juvenile way: make it rhyme and that’s all that mattered. This is what is behind much of the snobbishness against rhyming poetry, because too many amateurs think that way. It wasn’t until I got a handle on structure and meter, on internal rhymes, on a natural, almost conversational style, that it started to be good. By that time I was in high school.
After graduating university, I was privileged to meet an internationally-published poet in his art gallery; we spoke of many things creative, and when I mentioned I liked writing poetry myself, he invited me back to have a reading of them. He said they were excellent, but what would bring my work to the next level was to have layers of story in them via metaphor. He said to always aim to say more than you’re saying. It was the best advice I ever had.
In art school I joined a poetry group outside of my classes. We were all pretty advanced. We each wrote topics to throw into a hat; we would weekly read a poem we had written from the previous week – and draw the next random topic from the hat. We had the week to write it, inspiration or not. This is when I learned the vital lesson that you don’t need inspiration to work – you work for inspiration – it comes. I can write about anything on demand now; it’s a killer tool to have.
I’ve written ballads, limericks, sonnets, sestinas, diamond-shape poems, haiku, you name it. I dabble in free verse sometimes. Poetry has become so flexible, that between it, my essays, short stories, blog posts, little mantra-esque words of wisdom…I had to call the whole category Prose. But there’s still poetry…in word, in song; in life.
The first poem I’ll put here was written early in the COVID lockdowns, during a new moon. My husband and I got the virus nearly before it hit the news in earnest. Who expected all of that? We had to adapt. We’re along for the ride.
♥ – Eilee
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