by Tirzah Goodwin
Often, people will ask what inspires me to write poetry. I think they ask because, to most ordinary people, writing poetry is right up there with being a professional juggler or knitting sweaters out of cat hair. I’m a horrid juggler and let’s not talk about my failed knitting projects. A girl has some pride.
Poetry inspires me because the root of it is honesty. People don’t start writing poetry because they love a good rhyme scheme or because paragraphs were too limiting; they write poetry because something in them needs a voice. When you read someone’s poem, you’re reading their truth.
And that’s a heady feeling, to be that intimate with another person’s emotions. I write when my mind is too full of an event or an idea. I have to get it out of me, even if it’s through some sort of psychic surgery where the words pour out so I can breathe again.
One of my favorite poems that I’ve written is a poem called “Am I Pretty?”. When I was about nine, my dad gave me this horrid little gold heart with a clock inside. I wore this monstrosity everywhere because it made me feel special. As the youngest of eight kids and a girl, I rarely felt that way.
But then the chain broke and I couldn’t wear it anymore. My dad didn’t notice. When I told him how sorry I was about breaking it, he didn’t even remember giving it to me. I was crushed. Some part of me always wanted to ask him if he loved me, if he saw me, if I was special, but the other part was afraid the answer would be no. So I never asked.
In my poem, I tell him how that ugly gold piece of junk made me feel pretty. I ask him if he really did see me, if he really did think I was special. I then tied that idea back to my current life where I’m still invisible, where I’m unnoticed.
As you can imagine, this is a very personal poem to me. Not all poems are this confessional but all poems have truth, all poems have a kernel of momentary honesty even if the poet changes her mind the next day.
I say momentary honesty because not all poems are serious, not all poems are your truth forever. I have one where I do a tongue-in- cheek poem on my fantasy of doing in my mother. I wrote others about the environment, politics, and one on whether Santa is a perv.
Poetry can have a lighthearted approach; it can be sexy, sad, serious, it is the distillation of the poet. You get her essence, whatever that is. So give poetry a chance, find your flavor of poet. I’m a mango-raspberry twist myself and I’m not for everyone. Now I’ve got to get back to work knitting this sweater.
Tirzah Goodwin was kind enough to let me share a couple of her poems with you!
A little more about today’s guest:
My name is Tirzah L. Goodwin and I have always been a poet and a fiction writer. In 2008, I finally had some of my poetry and one of my flash fiction pieces published in Red Pulp Underground I’ve also had poems printed in Zygote Abstract, and the Dry Tear Poetry Anthology.
I have a BA in English from Morehead State University. I’m happily single and trapped in Kentucky with my two very understanding dogs. My poetry book, Love and Lighter Fluid: poems of a wild tirzah, is now available on Amazon and my www.tirzahlaughs.com website.