How Did Poetry Pass Me By?

Well, I came home from the North Carolina Writers’ Network conference to a crashed computer. Sigh. Typing on my laptop right now and it’s not nearly as easy to use online as my desktop. I’ll find a geek-on-call, or whatever the North Carolina equivalent is, tomorrow.
On a happier note, the conference was fabulous! The workshop I did was filled with enthusiastic students and we had a good time. I attended workshops on writing memoirs and writing humor (if you’re one of my readers, you know humor is not my strong suit!). I joined other faculty in reading from our work. Most of the other writers were poets. The poetry was incredible.
I also attended a ceremony inducting three writers into the NC Literary Hall of Fame. Two of the three are poets. I haven’t heard so much poetry since high school. Is the celebration of poetry a southern thing? I was in awe at the way the poets cut right to the heart of their subject with carefully, beautifully, perfectly chosen words.  
How have I missed poetry all these years? DIS-missed poetry, really. It was so painful to get through in high school. I feel as though a new world’s opened up to me. Does that mean I’ll try to write poetry? Ah, I don’t think so. First, I don’t think that’s where my talent lies. Second, and here’s the reality check, writing is my job. It’s the best job in the universe as far as I’m concerned, but it also pays for my mortgage and my health insurance and my groceries. I need to write my novels. I don’t have the time to acquire the skill it would take to write beautiful poetry. But I’ll be reading it. Savoring it. And remembering this weekend surrounded by people who share my passion for putting words on paper.


  1. Kathy Holmes on November 13, 2006 at 8:57 am

    I know exactly what you mean. I had no use for poetry in high school. But, later in life, when I discovered the grandmother I never met wrote poetry, I took another look at it. When my agent said I had a poetic and lyrical rhythm to my writing, I took another look at it. And while I don’t think I’ll be publishing poetry any time soon, I have discovered it’s a great outlet for expressing my feelings and getting right to the heart of it. So I write poetry for myself.

  2. Diane Chamberlain on November 13, 2006 at 3:14 pm

    Nice, Kathy. My grandmother was a poet, too. (the rhyming kind). I wish I had more of her poems. They were always about her life and her family. I hope you have some of your grandmother’s poetry to inspire you.

  3. Kathy Holmes on November 14, 2006 at 9:43 am

    Actually, I do. My uncle gave me several of her poems and I treasure them. They were also about her family and her life – like what it was like getting her degree when she was in her 60s. 🙂

  4. Diane Chamberlain on November 14, 2006 at 10:54 am

    That’s super. I wish I could sit down and have a conversation with my grandparents.

  5. Brenda on November 15, 2006 at 8:10 pm

    Glad you are home. Although I teach writing this year-haven’t gotten to poetry…I love love love teaching poetry, and even my seniors end up loving it when they finish. They especially love English Poetry..>To THe Virgins….To His Coy Mistress…Shakespeare’s sonnets….etc… I teach it in a way that it is so much fun-of course can’t use those poems in junior high (middle school)…
    However…that being said-I can’t stand writing poetry-and that (like you) goes back to the way I was taught poetry in high school…who cares what the meter is???? The words and thoughts count.
    Some of my favorites “The Road Not Taken” (Frost) “How Do I Love Thee?”
    Browning….Shakespeare’s sonnets (after all I am a Shakespeare GURU 🙂 🙂
    and several others…
    The book sounds great-using the name chosen-a challenge…
    Good news: I finish these two classes in Dec…only 8 more research papers to do and two research projects…whew…(All by Dec. 6th–don’t ask…)
    Thanks for your support.

  6. Diane Chamberlain on November 15, 2006 at 9:40 pm

    ONLY 8 more papers, brenda?????? since i’m trying to write two books in one year, you’re inspiring me, as usual.
    I wish I’d had a teacher like you for HS poetry!

  7. Brenda on November 16, 2006 at 7:28 pm

    “When I Have Fears to Be” (John Keats) reminds me of you and me and our writing.
    A funny poem=one of Shakespeare’s sonnets–“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun…”

  8. Diane Chamberlain on November 16, 2006 at 10:20 pm

    I’ll have to check out the Keats poem, Brenda.

  9. Tom LoPresti on November 20, 2006 at 5:08 pm

    A late add-on… Welcome to the world of delicious poetry. Check out the Geraldine Dodge Poetry Festival site at And especially click on Taha Muhammad Ali and hear his reading of his poem “Revenge.” Amzaing awakening and awareness. The whole weekend was wonderful… of particular note for me were Robert Bly and Coleman Barks and their Persian Mystic poetry. Enjoy.

  10. Diane Chamberlain on November 20, 2006 at 7:28 pm

    Hi big bro! Thanks for chiming in here. I’m not sure I’m ready for a whole weekend of poetry, but I’m enjoying the Mirabal book you gave me. I read it before sleep.

Leave a Comment