On this past Thursday I work shopped one of my poems for my prose poem class.  My instructor said something to me that I will not quickly forget.  “I guarantee you in six months no one will remember your poem.”  I’m feeling some type of way about for two reasons.  Number one, I’ve been writing poetry since I was 12 years old, I am now 49.  I’ve won contests and been included in several anthologies.  I had, at one time, a nine page website and quite an online following (over 27,000 hits).  Secondly I am the only person of color in that class.  Not really a problem for me before but for this class I can tell that they don’t get me.  Not only because I’m not white.  They also have a problem “getting” any poetry that is rooted in the real.  They praise poetry that personifies the moon and birds and New Zealand.  One young lady wrote about an experience of being molested and how she dealt with it.  They didn’t understand the underlying theme, but got so caught up on the fact that her coping mechanism was writing words on little strips of paper and flushing them down the toilet.  They wanted to know what some of the words were on the strips of paper and what the plumber had to say when he was called.  Totally missed that the step-father lay on the couch licking his lips as an indicator of what was really going on.  Another young man wrote about a childhood friend whose parents struggled with drug use and abuse.  Totally missed that too.  Didn’t believe that it could’ve been about real people.

Below is the poem that she said was forgettable:

She teaches them determination by example, just as she was taught.  No whining or excuses just because life is hard.  “It’s always been hard for us here,” she reminds them. “You don’t have the luxury of tears.”  They watch her move forward regardless of the setbacks.  She rises above   mounting obstacles that make others turn back.  They call her a giant.

Maybe she will forget that poem in six months, and maybe the rest of the class will too.  But, the people who understand the meaning of it won’t forget it.  People who were raised by single mothers will be able to relate to it.  My children won’t forget it.  That’s who it was for anyway.  I have spent many years working to perfect the art of brevity.  I still haven’t perfected it.  But I am a little insulted that this instructor would guarantee me that my poem would not be remembered because it is too general.  To her I say:

My art is my thoughts filtered through my emotions making their way down my left arm spilling onto my paper in prose through my pen.  While I appreciate your expertise, I understand that you would have to change the filter on your lens to realize that you don’t see me.  I’m fifty shades of too black for you to understand that your blues aint like mine.

I got a fortune from a cookie that said “You are not a person that can be ignored.”  I will spend the rest of the semester writing poetry that will be a constant reminder of the very first poem I submitted.  Let’s see who forgets who first.


~ by Diva2de on September 22, 2012.

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