A couple years ago I took a creative writing class, in hopes of improving myself as a writer. Fiction was my focus. Nothing else interested me. At the time, I was unaware that this was going to change.
Before the first class, the instructor informed us that poetry was going to be the main focus of the class. Fiction would only be touched on toward the end of the semester. I immediately wanted to withdraw from the class. I didn’t want to study poetry. I didn’t even like poetry!
I voiced my concerns to my instructor and she was very understanding. She shared with me that her first creative writing class focused primarily on poetry also. Luckily, her professor persuaded her to stick with the class. What she told me next made me decide to stay in her class as well.
She told me that studying poetry would make my fiction better. Simple as that. She had my undivided attention. She claimed writing poetry would make me choose more descriptive and powerful words, in order make the most impact with the fewest amount of words. The same is true with fiction. The cleaner and more concise your sentences, the clearer your writing will be.
I learned something else very surprising in the class. I do like poetry. I can even write descent poetry. In fact, my poetry has been included in anthologies. When one of my poems won 1st place in a contest, no one was more surprised then me. Fiction is still my first love, but poetry has a special place in my heart.
Below is a poem I wrote during the class. This poem was written from the persona of an angry, homeless man. Persona is Greek for mask. Persona poetry allows you to pretend to be someone else. I hope you like it.
Hey! What’d ya say?
I’ve been called worse,
Piece of shit,
Don’t mean a thang,
Yeah, I smell.
What’s it to ya?
Ya gonna take me home?
Let me take a bath at your house?
Didn’t think so.
So what…you give me a dolla,
Like it’s gonna help,
Can’t buy a stick of gum for that!
You try eatin on a buck.
Can’t do it, can ya?
Maybe I should get a job.
Who’s gonna hire me?
I could work for you,
Do odd jobs,
Rake your yard, take out your trash.
How ’bout it?
Face it. You’re not embarrassed by me.
You’re afraid of me,
Cause you know,
From being me.