The other day, I browsed through old notebooks I found inside my baul (yes, I do have one) and found drafts of my published poem. Imagine how horrified I was when I read all my drafts, including the published one. I could not contain my laughter for a few minutes. Realizing how ugly it was, I found myself looking for that folio to have a reality check.
I read it more than ten times and realized that I am not worthy of writing poetry just yet. For me, more than anything, poetry is about respect for words. I remember an excerpt from Wislawa Szymborska’s Nobel Lecture (1996),
“But poets are the worst. Their work is hopelessly unphotogenic. Someone sits at a table or lies on a sofa while staring motionless at a wall or ceiling. Once in a while this person writes down seven lines, only to cross out one of them fifteen minutes later, and then another hour passes, during which nothing happens…Who could stand to watch this kind of thing?”
This kind of respect for work I believe I can only learn through time. I cannot stop moving yet. I cannot stay put, literally and figuratively speaking. There isn’t enough pain, experience and loss in my life for me to stay put. I want to be careless.
For the meantime, I will keep my drafts inside my baul for safe keeping. They are not ready to come out yet.
“Poets, if they’re genuine, must also keep repeating, “I don’t know.” Each poem marks an effort to answer this statement, but as soon as the final period hits the page, the poet begins to hesitate, starts to realize that this particular answer was pure makeshift, absolutely inadequate. So poets keep on trying, and sooner or later the consecutive results of their self-dissatisfaction are clipped together with a giant paperclip by literary historians and called their “oeuvres.” (Wislawa Szymborska, 1996).
I do not know anything.