Amber Skye Forbes

Writing Words With the Tips of My Toes

Thoughtful Sunday: Why I Write Poetry

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Mariah Wilson’s Logo Design for Sleeve

  • I feel like Saturdays and Sundays will be a mixed bag of things, from guest posts, to interviews, to stuff about me as a writer.

I never saw myself writing poetry. Ever. Back when I was at Georgia Regents University (a name I detest since the school was re-named out of vanity), I took a creative writing class with a professor whom will remain unknown out of respect. I took this class because I wanted to learn how to write poetry. I wanted to understand poetry beyond the canon of classical works literature students must read that I couldn’t enjoy, as I had to do a myriad of read-throughs to understand these poems. Thus, at the time, I thought poetry had to be complicated. So when we received assignments for poems to write, that is what I did–I made them complicated, and the results were horrendous.

I attribute 100% of the blame to the professor, who had no idea how to even teach poetry. We didn’t study the types of poetry one could choose from, from sonnet to free-form to haiku. We had no creative writing textbook. We weren’t given any pointers what-so-ever about writing our own poems. Workshops were unhelpful, as the students were just as clueless, and we were never given any guidance on how we could critique a piece of writing. When we received feedback from the professor, it was vague and awful. Next to a particular line, he would write “a stone,” meaning we could turn that line of poetry over and find more beneath it. That was the most unhelpful garbage ever, so I never learned how to truly write poetry.

Then I switched colleges due to my erratic mental health, which is still erratic to this day. I attend Columbia College of Missouri and take their online courses. I decided to take creative writing again, and I learned so much more. We were actually given a textbook on how to write creatively. My previous class had no such textbook. We also had textbooks to read poems and short stories from. We had discussions about what we thought worked and didn’t work, as it related to our creative writing textbook. Workshops still weren’t helpful, but the students were complete beginners, and I am not, so they stuck, hardcore, to the rules of writing I abandoned a few years ago. At least the professor gave us guidelines.

This creative writing class was MUCH better. I learned poetry doesn’t need to be complicated. The best poems are ones easily understood in a first read-through. I also learned this from Mariah Wilson as well. She was–and is–my mentor throughout this class. The professor’s feedback was so simple for the poems, but they made a world of difference. It was ACTUAL feedback. He would say, “This poem has a lot of potential. I think this poem would work much better with more enjambment” or whatever he felt was best for that particular piece. And you knew what he meant and could apply it. So simple, yet so effective. I only listened to his feedback and disregarded students’ feedback because it was obvious they were trying TOO hard to criticize a piece of work. I’m grateful I re-took creative writing (earning an A :D), because this is when I fell in love with poetry.

Even so, I still didn’t see myself publishing it. Then I experienced a recent curve ball, which has triggered my PTSD horribly. I won’t go into this. Poetry suddenly became an appealing escape for me, so I wrote. I then decided I had so many ideas for poems that I might as well write a collection and seek publication for it.

I ravenously began to devour poetry, especially from my American Literature II class, where poetry is a huge chunk of what we read. I’ve also finished reading Mariah’s We Walk Alone, which I beg you buy. It is incredible. Rachel Thompson is also an amazing novelist/essayist/poet. I recommend both of her books you can find on her Amazon Author page. I implore you to check out her work as well, as it inspired my collection that will include a novella and 36 poems. I do have a publisher in mind in which to submit this work to, one who reached out to all AEC authors.

I now write poetry because poems can be me. I am poems. I love being a novelist first and foremost, but it’s in bad taste for an author to insert herself into the novel she’s writing, unless it’s a nonfiction piece. With poetry, however, you can lay all of yourself down into a piece of poetry, which is exactly what I did in every poem I wrote. The novella, however, is a bit more complicated. After all, it’s about a young girl named Alexandria living in an exaggerated 19th-century mental hospital. Perhaps it isn’t exaggerated, but mental hospitals began to improve around her time. The first two parts have been published, and you can go to my bio to read those. But they are going to be revised. I have not gone through what Alexandria will go through, but it still fits with the overall theme of my collection.

Poetry is my catharsis, my purging of feelings.

I am so proud to now call myself a poet along with being a novelist. Maybe even an essayist in the future. 

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