The Poetry Block and How to Climb Out

I never really get writer’s blocks, or rather can’t afford to, but sometimes my creativity decides to limit itself to one genre. Usually it’s self-pitying journal entries; sometimes, out of necessity, academic essays. Over the past three months or so, I found it relatively easy to write anything at all apart from poetry, which was a bit annoying since I would quite like to think of myself as a poet. Every metaphor and end rhyme I tried made me feel stupid. I started to think of giving up the whole poet thing.

At poetry open mic events, which I desperately devoured for inspiration, occasionally someone would ask if I wrote poetry. When I ashamedly mumbled ‘sometimes,’ they’d ask why I wasn’t performing, and the easiest answer (I thought) was the Writer’s Block card, that beautiful privilege other professions have no real equivalent for. It turned out – surprisingly, to me – that even those well-known performers whom I imagined to pour out new sets for each show as easy as breathing, sometimes have poetry blocks as well. But what makes a difference between successful performers and me – among many other excuses – is that they don’t stop performing because they haven’t come up with new stuff for a while. They still have confidence in themselves as poets and performers, even if they have to dig up some old pieces of work for performance every now and then. In other words: I hadn’t lost my Muse – I was just a damned pathetic quitter.

With the comfort of knowing that I wasn’t alone with the problem, I looked through some old poems yesterday. There was one which I wrote over two years ago, and I read it out loud to myself to see if it had performance poetry potential. Then I thought it would be interesting to write a poem now, two years later, on the same topic; just to explore how things had changed during those years. And I wrote it. As easy as breathing. And the block was gone.

It’s not a great poem; it’s lacking confidence just a bit, the same way your walk might lack a bit of confidence if you hadn’t used your legs for three months. But it’s not bad, either. Maybe I’ll perform it at an open mic this week, just to show them I’m not a quitter.


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