Let’s talk poetry today.
This poem originally appeared in my first poetry book, Modern Classics: A Book of Poetry, published in 2008 (and no longer in print).
There are over 60 poems in this collection and yet this one will forever be the one that reveals a truth about me. I’ve tried, in the years since, to capture this feeling or style again. But it always comes back to this one.
Strange, really, that the poem I most connect with that tells the most about me is a poem without capital letters or punctuation. Strange that, all those years ago, the rough draft of this one never changed.
So what’s it about?
Well, I’m a believer that all poetry is personal. It’s emotional. It’s about writing about (and then connecting with) the raw emotion that was between and behind the words. It’s not about the surface.
On the surface this poem is about a dancer running through a rehearsal of a big performance. She’s practicing for an empty room, but yet she also is trying to earn the praise of her “toughest critic”. It’s about judging yourself. It’s about practice. It’s about how the real work of something creative, something before an audience, happens in rehearsal. How the real work happens when you admit to yourself that you may be doing good work.
Underneath this poem is a world of truth about me. I am my worst critic. I am, sometimes, too hard on myself. But sometimes, when I look at what I’m preparing to present to the world, I’m happy with it. Sometimes, when I least expect it, I please my toughest critic.