When I was thinking about this post, I couldn’t help but reflect on my college days when I studied and wrote poetry. I was really lucky to take a handful of courses from then Professor Dennis Schmitz who helped me learn to choose just the right word.
I have long admired and followed the work of my old professor, but I admit that since I have become published in fiction, writing poetry has become more of a hidden passion of mine. Even though I no longer write it as often as I should or submit it for publication, it’s still my favorite form of writing. Believe it or not, it’s harder than writing fiction. A poem can take years to finish. It can take that long to find just the write combination of words to convey just the right rhythm, feel, or meaning. But I love writing it for a variety of reasons, one being that it is really written for oneself. At least mine is. When I write poetry, I don’t worry about if it will ever be published. I am not concerned about reviews. It likely will never be reviewed in this or anyone else’s lifetime. When I write poetry, it’s about me and the written word. It’s pure.
When I still lived in Sacramento and attended Sac State, I was briefly involved with a critique group associated with the Sacramento Poetry Center. I was introduced to the group and to SPC, as I’m sure were many of his students, by Professor Schmitz. I decided to see what has been going on with the SPC and was surprised when I stumbled upon This photo of the front cover of an old issue of Poetry Now with Professor Schmitz on the front of it. I have that issue somewhere. I seem to have misplaced it, but as I was looking for it this evening, I pulled out some old issues from 1997 and 1998 that I have some poems published in. Reading those old issues, not just my own poems of course, brought back some warm memories and more importantly, some old lessons that still apply.
As I continued digging through my old poetry artifacts, I also happened upon a folder of some of those same poems that appeared in Poetry Now,but in rougher form with Dennis Schmitz’s comments scribbled in the margins. What treasures they are to me now, although I wouldn’t want anyone else to see them in such rough form. Still, they re-opened the desire for writing poetry again. Sometimes it’s nice to get back to ones roots, in this case writing roots, especially when one can reflect and see them from a new perspective peppered with experience.