#WaybackWednesday: Writing, Poetry

I was helping my brother clean out our parents’ garage and I came across this gem. A book of poetry written by my teenage self and lovingly pasted into a scrapbook. These poems are…wow. Terrible. Laughably so, but if my Wayback self were to come up and share one of these poems with me right now, I would applaud her attempts.

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I used packing tape to “laminate” this picture onto the cover. I think it’s from a calendar of Waterhouse paintings. My Wayback self was probably very moved by the longing on this white woman’s face.

I’m going to do a little project. Each week, for #WaybackWednesday, I’m going to present one of these old poems and psychoanalyze the work as if it was written by another person.

I don’t know how it’s going to turn out. Some of these poems are over twenty years old. A lot has changed for me personally, but the world is also very different now. These poems are glimpses into the era before technology and social media.

Let’s start with the first poem in the book, which has the very original title, “Window”.

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Look at these straight edges and bright teal border.

Here it is, digitized and free from dot-matrix (oh my god, dot matrix) blurs:

1I look outside the window just to watch the clouds go by
2To ponder situations as the sun tears up the sky
3I gaze upon the brilliance of the stars that burn so bright.
4And marvel at the moonbeams that engulf the lake in light.

5To see outside the window of the walls that are my cage
6Provides escape from madness in my sadness and my rage
7A window to the heavens gives me hope and peace and light
8Like a flower I am living as it gives me will to fight.

9The world revolves forever and the sun and moon return
10Though they know that they must leave me, for a moment they sojourn
11As they sit outside my window while I laugh or while I weep
12In their clouds and in their starlight, in the window that I keep.

My first impressions after I read this:

Rhyming? Really? What are you, twelve? Oh wait… You *are* probably twelve. Also, learn to punctuate. And what’s with the cliches?

Going deeper into the form of the poem, the rhyming and the sing-songy heptameter which is almost consistently iambic shows a need to conform to something. The archaic form is very rigid, underpinning the poet’s trapped feeling and desire for an “escape”.

It’s interesting that a young poet would choose such an obsolete form, but I could speculate that she chose it because she recently learned it, she found comfort in the structure, maybe she thought it paralleled her situation, or maybe she identified with certain aspects of life during the era when iambic heptameter was popular.

Getting even deeper into the poem:

During the first stanza, she introduces the subject of a window, and herself as a mostly passive character looking, pondering, gazing, marveling. Not a lot going on. The subjects of her focus are celestial bodies.

The adult me is thinking: sun and stars and moon?

On analysis, the focus of this character’s fascination is not her entrapment but the world beyond it. The fact that she focuses on celestial bodies, cliches that symbolize ideals and the unattainable, is a good sign that she hasn’t lost hope (7).

Overall, there’s a feeling of sadness and frustration. The poem explores the idea of powerlessness but not without hope.

Ultimately, I think I wrote this during class while staring out the window and at the time I wrote it, I’d thought it was a fun exercise to get things to rhyme and fit into a cool pattern. You know, make it a real poem. Through grownup eyes, I see how much I probably resented that class but knew I needed it to graduate.


My writing group will be presenting another Writers Workshop! Topic this month: DIALOGUE. We’ll cover the basics like punctuation, as well as some advanced topics like beats and caesuras. Come join us, meet other writers in the Bay Area, network, and sandbox ideas.

Presented by: The Black Hats Writers Group (est. 2010)
When: Friday, March 18th, 2016. At 7:30 p.m.
Where: Book Buyers in Mountain View: 317 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041
Cost: Free
Parking: Several free parking structures and lots off Castro Street.

Connect with me by leaving a comment below, Twitter (@JoanWIP), or Facebook.

Hang out in my mental playground! My short are stories available on Amazon, Fresh Cuts: Breaking Volume. 


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