I envisioned the role of the poet laureate as creating opportunities for people to come together and share some poetry. Which was a risk for me. Up to getting the role, I wrote poems and had them published in journals. My audience was one reader at a time. So I knew it was going to be a challenge for me.
In my back pocket was my respect for other poets I know and have known. The poet laureate was my chance to champion poets in Oshkosh that I met. They wrote poems and shared them with family and friends. They had a message and a love for writing. Which is all it takes to be a poet.
Whenever I have a new project, I begin by writing. That was when I made the connection to something I have been exploring for a long time. The essential skills to having a good life. One of those is writing.
When I had a lot of worries, I would, well, perseverate on them. Sometimes I still have the same bad thoughts going through my head. But I found writing them down allowed me to say, there! I can let it go from my head. I can forget and come back to those worries later.
I also found that writing caused me to think about my worries in a different way. The act of writing uses a different part of your brain. The solution may turn up at the end of my pencil.
Many times I would think of a problem or an incident (and lets face it, this is usually heartbreak) would come out in the form of a poem.
For me, it was also often something I wish I could have said to somebody else.
I remember I once had a relationship with a woman (many years ago) who said they dreamed of having a treehouse. I thought maybe they still thought about it.
After the breakup, I wrote a poem about wanting to build her a treehouse. Working on it was cathartic. It was a way to think about the break-up and still be productive. Regardless of what her reality was, I learned some things about myself. Spending more time with it, I was able to infuse some meaning into it. I could make that treehouse into a metaphor.
It became two poems. One was a quirky, rhyming poem about building it for her. The other was that person was in a tree house. It was a nice space to protect herself from the scary tree she was in. I was unable to climb to her.
Working on it helped me to think about the situation with bigger truths of love and how human beings are.
Poetry helps understand ourselves. It is a ay to actively think about our world and the people in it in a new way. Poetry makes us tell a new story by choosing the right words and images.
Poetry is thoughtful communication. We separate ourselves from the daily self caught up in worries to write what is important. And reading or hearing poetry requires active listening. Listening to understand.
More understanding leads to less conflict and more connections.