This past week was devoted entirely to the art of writing. I checked into an old inn on the beach in Ocean Park City, got some ice cream cones from the local Soda Fountain, and spent my days in a New England community center (read: a big, square, wooden building) listening to presenters on topics ranging from How to Get a Literary Agent to writing the modern sonnet. In sum, it was a pretty nice week.
If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that poetry is not my thing. Imagine my surprise that what was most rewarding was, in fact, the poetry. In the past, the poetry I’ve written has been graded, and we were always being pushed to have perfect iambic pentameter, not to force rhymes, not to use cliched images. That was all beneficial to force me to write better poetry; my rhymes weren’t forced and my images weren’t cliched. But this week, without the threat of grade and with the reward of sharing my poetry in an encouraging environment, I found myself having fun being a poet, and I was even proud of some of the things I produced.
The rules still exist even when I’m not being graded, but the flexibility afforded to me by this conference allowed me to play with the rules, break them, and be aware that I was doing so. Maybe it’s like swearing: you don’t want kids cussing because they don’t fully understand what those words mean or the implications and consequences of using them, but once you’re an adult and you’ve learned what those words do in a conversation, you have the right to use them.
I became more fond of poetry this past week, and for that reason alone, the conference was worth it. I look forward to going to others to see what else I can be inspired to do.