“…to say you were a poet was, sort of, saying you were kind of crazy.”

Something Z wrote made me think of poems written in the tradition of Nikki Giovanni and Maya Angelou. I’m not saying the poems were of that quality; I’m saying they were reminiscent of “Ego Tripping,” the types of poems that have speakers who are baaad. One line went like this:

“When it comes to writing I'm the god, Greek mythology. Zeus strike lightning on a verse...”

Another line referring to God went like this: “When I get lost you always redirect me. Teach me to respect myself so they can respect me. As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, protect me. When I get too high, check me. Like it’s man to man.”

I still remember when Z didn’t like to read poetry. I said, “I know how to remedy this.” I read him Haki Madhubuti’s “But He Was Cool (or he even stopped for green lights)” and Z was cured. Now he’s trying to write poetry of his own without being asked. The other day I was listening to “Fresh Air” and Nick Flynn said, “…to say you were a poet was, sort of, saying you were kind of crazy. As a life choice, in this society, to say I am a poet is, you know, you might as well say you're Jesus Christ. It isn't exactly a respected life choice, always.” Wow, what do you do with that when you’re passionate about writing? (Or when your child is?) I guess you keep doing it anyway, even if you think your work stinks.

It’s fun to read young writer’s work looking for interesting lines, those lines that can take off on their own. James Britton and his colleagues talked about expressive writing and how it fuels the poetic while Peter Elbow speaks of freewriting and then rereading to find the golden kernels.