Ever shared a poem with someone and, despite their niceties, knew they weren’t really feeling it?
IF you allow it, it can be the worst feeling in the world. It will make you question your art and your ability.
Am I a bad poet? Am I a depressing poet? Does my poetry make people feel bad?
Forget every bit of that; it’s not you. I’ve learned that not all of our intentions toward poetry are honest or honorable. Often, people associate a specific feeling with what they think “good” poetry is. There is no such thing.
Poetry is the most honest expression of the poet. It is pure emotion and experience wrapped in words that aggregate to (re)produce feeling—and not all of our feelings are good. To ignore that our lives have been gifted poetry in the form of complexity is to disrespect the poetry within us. And it is the easiest way to dismiss us from recognition as poets.
I’ve known people who prefer poetry without profanity. I’ve known people who only want poetry about “happy” things. I’ve known people who want poetry that does not challenge them, and are not willing to sit and consider that the poetry itself is an expression of a person. To distill the person to what makes YOU comfortable; to whitewash genre and creative authority, is a cancellation of entire existences. And who gives us the authority to do so?
With all of this said, what I’m getting at is … be true to the poetry in YOU. There is no other way to be a poet. If you’re worried about reception and the comfort of others, course-correct, now! In the end, they will be okay … but you won’t. And all you’ll produce is a watered down version of yourself that does little to produce spiritual movement, but quite a bit to deform your craft. In all things, opportunities, and at all times … be fully poetically YOU.