My poetry background
Thirty years ago, when I was in high school, I wrote quite a bit of poetry. I even had a poem published in the school newspaper and in the yearbook of my graduating year.
I took a bit of a break, and wrote poetry off and on for the next 25 years or so. For a year or two during that time, I belonged to a poetry mailing list, which encouraged me to write a bit more than I had been.
This dabbling approach to poetry changed in September 2016.
What sparked my recent poetry prolificity
In November 2015, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints quietly unveiled a policy change that labelled its LGBTQ+ members as apostates and banned their children from participating in the church’s sacraments. As a parent of a pansexual child, I took this personally, both because of the church’s approach to their sexuality and the punishment their future children potentially could face.
I felt hurt by this action, and it forced me through a heart-wrenching wrestle with whether to stay with the church. I had experienced a faith crisis about 15 years or so prior to this, but retrospectively that seemed tamer. While I ultimately decided to stay after a week of working through the policy’s implications, I am still uneasy and angry about the policy.
Over the year or so that followed, much of my approach for dealing with that anger and hurt had been through sharing critical articles and posts about the church. Frankly, none of it was therapeutic and felt only revengeful.
In September 2016, I somehow realized it had been a while since I had written a poem, and figured that this event might be a good topic for my foray back into poetry. I had used poetry to explore marriage, childbirth, and even miscarriage. Faith crisis seemed a good fit, too.
I originally planned on a single poem, which ended up being The Dying Fire. However, some of the themes I had hoped to cover didn’t seem to fit, so As Years Crawl By and Confrication explored those themes. As I wrote those two, a few other themes emerged that I wanted to flesh out.
Then, in early October 2016, an A Thoughtful Faith podcast interview between Gina Colvin and Lindsay Hansen Park inspired a pile of new themes to explore, many of which—as of this writing—I have yet to complete.
Since September 2016, I have written dozens of new poems. Sometimes, I write a new poem every week.
About the poems
One of the things I like about writing poetry is using imagery to describe events and ideas. It helps to make my thoughts more vivid than simply blogging about them does. Often, the imagery I use has subtle meaning, which can be challenging for people to pick up on. But that’s one of the reasons I like the writings in the books of Isaiah and Psalms in the Bible: they force the reader to look for the meaning, lingering longer on the writing.
While I have written prose, or free verse, I prefer traditional rhyming poetry. It forces me to consider my wording carefully, and I think it better facilitates the imagery I use.
My standby metre is iambic heptameter. It’s an old metre, common in 16th and 17th century England. I’m not sure what appeals to me about it, but I’ve been using it since I first learned about it roughly 30 years ago. I think it lends itself to storytelling, and when I use it, it’s often to tell a story; perhaps that’s the appeal.
That being said, I do use other metres from time to time.
My poetry themes
Unsurprisingly, many of my poems since September 2016 have focused on faith crisis, exploring the themes of faith and doubt. Other themes that appear in several of my poems, however, include the feminine divine, nature, LGBTQ issues (particularly related to the LDS church), and politics.