Dancers are known for being our own biggest critics. Heck, maybe people are known as being our own biggest critics. We rip ourselves apart mercilessly in the face of friends’ feedback to the contrary. We deny our souls the satisfaction of being loved not by others, but by our very selves.
But sometimes we’re just afraid.
Afraid of what? Who’s really to know. Afraid of who? What’s really to say. Marianne Williamson might argue “off success” to the first question and of “ourselves” to the second.
I prefer to think I’ve just been afraid of being vulnerable again by writing poetry.
Not by being vulnerable in the sense of opening up about one’s life or oneself or ones circumstances; my friends, and in particular my peers on the Tap Dance Ensemble I’m blessed enough to part of, could all tell you I’m probably annoyingly comfortable sharing that side of me.
Not by being vulnerable in the sense of defying the stoic, never-talk-about-your-emotions-ness that stereotypically comes with being a straight man in today’s society; again: my friends, and in particular my peers on the Tap Dance Ensemble I’m blessed enough to part of, could all tell you I don’t typically conform to such a thing.
Rather, I’d prefer to think I’ve been afraid to write poetry because I’ve been afraid to fail again.
This is a weird sensation for me. Ask friends on the dance team, and even friends in general, and you’d probably hear them tell you that I try things just for curiosity’s sake. I do stuff like take computer-networking jobs because I want a new challenge. I start dancing even though over a decade of running has left me with the flexibility and turnout of a brick that hasn’t stretched in a few months.
Not so with poetry. Last semester, in Spring, I took a 600 level poetry writing class that left me mentally limping as I stumbled out of it, licking my wounds and promising myself I’d never enter another poetry contest, a statement I still hold to. I learned, or if not “learned,” then “observed” that my poetry didn’t stack up at all with my peers’ work. It wasn’t abstract or deep or unexpected in any of the ways we’re taught poetry should be. It was technically simple, grammatically dull, and at times overly-idealistic. Or, to put it more directly: my poetry stunk. That was the gist of what I discovered after hearing the work of my peers last semester.
It’s taken until today for me to finally get over that.
Yet again, one of my friends on the dance team has come through for me, igniting a twig on the ground in the rainforest, convincing the fire that maybe, just maybe, this poetry thing was worth another go.
It was always, for the record, worth another go. I just was perhaps afraid to put on my shoes and step out onto the dance floor again.
So I’ll write again, and not just write again, but write poetry and share it again, and let history and the readers decide where it falls on the grand scheme of things and how significant it is, even if my diction will be simple and my ideas too idealistic for the genre at present.
Sam Clemens failed at nearly everything he professionally did in his life, but his words defied the grave and inspired some of the most profoundly important American writers to ever live.
Maybe one day my musings will become that meaningful.