I had a great time at Poetry Center San Jose this past week. I had a horrible poetry teacher in college who seemed bent on picking his favorites, then destroying all other students so they never wrote poetry again. I was destroyed. I hadn't written any poetry (save a funny rhyme for my daughter when she was three) since about 1970. Baby, that's a long time! But Poetry Center let me come back, like John Donne's compass, to the point where I began.
My critique group (yes, I am extolling their virtues again) includes a poet, and one day she brought a piece about a tiny place in Texas which led us all to reminisce about small towns in our past. Evelyn C. challenged us each to bring a poem about a small town for our next meeting. One week to produce a poem after 40 years! Holy iambic pentameter! But I don't write poetry,which I kept telling them, but they wouldn't let me off the hook. So I wrote something about a little town in Oregon that keeps a pretty low profile.
The next week, I informed them I still didn't write poetry, I write short paragraphs. I read my piece and was informed it was "narrative poetry," and they liked it. Shock! I was so emboldened that I took it to Poetry Center, where Nils Peterson was reading form his recently published book--and his stuff is a lot like mine (similar style, but better, of course). At the open mic part at the end of their meeting, I read my poem about Scio, Oregon. I liked the feedback I got from this very warm and encouraging group. So, I guess now I'm a poet. Who woulda guessed?