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Why I Write

I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled poets to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean. – Socrates

When I was sixteen, my English teacher Mr. Marianni asked my class to be creative and write a poem in any style we wanted. I had never written a poem before, but I decided to write one honoring Africa, the motherland. Mr. Marianni enjoyed the poem so much, he encouraged me to write. I am so thankful to him. At that time, he became my only friend at Lake Braddock Secondary School. He inspired the writer within and drew her out.

After being inspired by him, I began to write about anything and everything. I shared my writing with my family, but they lacked interest, so soon enough I gave up and focused on other things. I started to doubt my writing skills and thought my poems were no good at all, but as a force of habit, I clung on to every poem I had. Though the poems might not have been good, they were still mine, written from my own heart.

I later became friends with a poet, who I admired a lot. He helped to rekindle my interest in writing. He suggested a poetry reading. I had never done one before. The poetry reading was to take place at Tradewinds. The reading ended up not happening that day. In a way, I was glad that it didn’t because I probably wasn’t prepared. But that glimmer of faith helped a lot.

I remember my first poetry reading like it was yesterday. It was at the Barnes & Nobles at the Potomac Yard Center. I was so nervous. I went up in front of the crowd and told everybody how nervous I was. My boss, who’d come along to support me, scolded me for that later. He said that I should never tell anyone how nervous I am or they will expect failure. I don’t know why it was such an emotional day for me, but I got a rush being up there. I had wanted to share my poetry with others for such a long time.

I know that my poems can’t compare with the all-time greats, but I know where they come from. It doesn’t matter how good or bad a poem is. What makes a true poet is that they write from the heart. My emotions come out more strongly in my poems. I have been able to turn something as ugly as anger into a work of art. That’s when I realized that when I write, I shouldn’t be so concerned with what others think about my work as long as I know why I write.

As I read my poems that fateful day, the oddest thing happened. People that were shopping and browsing for books in the store came and gathered around as I read, and when I was done, people kept coming up and telling me how good my poems were and how much they enjoyed them. My boss even saw me in a different light. That day felt like a rebirth, an awakening for me, and I had more confidence in my work.

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