I am by no means a poet. I like to stick to Fiction. Occasionally I’ll venture into Non-Fiction. My reluctance to step out of my comfort zone is what makes my Intro to Poetry class so good for me. Each week I am forced to work with a format that is foreign. I have had to learn to craft language and theme into a very short space. I’ve had to make sure each word is worth the space it takes up. The first attempts weren’t pretty. But as the semester has progressed, I’ve found a new means of expression, one that holds the potential to be very powerful.

If your writing is feeling stagnant, I encourage you to branch out and try writing a poem for ten minutes. Try your hand at a limerick. Dabble with a sonnet. Or just write free-verse. The short space often forces you to get straight to the point, and requires new, refreshing imagery to paint a picture for the reader.

If you’re still struggling to get started, here are a few prompts: Write about the texture of hope. List five things you believe in, two you don’t and one thing you would never do; combine to create poetry. Write a poem addressing America as though she is a person. What would she look like? What are her hobbies? Or, as my professor always says, put down on the page what needs to be said. Write about what you’ve been struggling with, and get it down on paper.

Below is a rough draft of my Personified America Poem:

America the Beautiful

America, you are the teenager slumped at a table caught between two parents who haven’t figured out they need a divorce.
America, you are the long-gone hiker returning to their home, skin smeared with the grime and dust of the long road you’ve traveled.
America, you are the girl dancing at a concert, who has lost herself in the music.
You are beautiful.
America, I know you pull down your patch-work sleeves to hide the scars that you’ve dug into yourself.
I know that you weep in the middle of the night because it feels like your voice is suffocating in the torrent of angry tongues that make a home out of your lungs.
America, you are the girl who hesitates to check a box under race because the blood of your ancestors is mixed beyond separation.
Because your skin is a fresco of colors, layer after layer after layer.
And one day you will look in the mirror and realize that orange is not a color that suits you
And you will cast off the arms that try to pin you down into definitions,
Crushing the windpipes of men that try to tell you otherwise,
Because, America, you are beautiful.

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