12:51 is the time my voice
Found the words I sought
Is it this stage I want?

The Strokes

I didn’t take poetry classes in college with a goal of publishing in mind.  I certainly never finished enough poems to fill a chap book.  The same could be said of journalism.  I wasn’t intending to end up in newspapers either, but nevertheless I took every nonfiction class offered.

At the time I really didn’t know what motivated me to register for poetry term after term.  I was following a path, trying to keep an open mind as I gathered experience and figured out what I was doing as a young writer.

Maybe it was momentum carried over from the creative writing class I took as a senior in high school.  That class provided me with perspective on what I really wanted.  Because of it, I ditched a half-tuition scholarship to study marine science at the University of Miami.  I decided instead to stay local and study writing in the city.

Maybe deep down I knew that I was too literal of a person to launch into fiction without the proper tools at hand.  As it ended up, those poetry classes helped me find my voice as a writer, perhaps more than my fiction classes ever did.

Here are a couple of works extracted from the world around me when I was roughly 18 or 19.

The first poem “So” was written my freshman year after a trip to the Art Institute of Chicago.  I was there for an art history assignment when I stumbled on a bored girl perched on the steps of the grand staircase.

I remember struggling at first to put that moment into words.  It was an odd bubbling up of thought that brought me to the descriptive “chocolate covered cherry eyes.”  The metaphor felt right as it popped into my head.  It allowed me to step outside the literal to say something succinct and compelling.

The second offering “Thoughts on How Wild Chicago Was Last Sunday” came from a similar moment of poet as observer, watching a sculptor cast a nude model on late night public television.

Hope you enjoy!