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.