In the age of the electric typewriter,
I was a prolific writer of love poems. I scratched them into volumes of journals before painstakingly typing them onto special erasable paper that had the texture of parchment. I labored over the verses, pouring the contents of my tortured soul into every line. Some of the pages were definitely stained with my teenage tears. I thought I was so incredibly artistic.
What spawned this trip down memory lane?
Never toss your notebooks, kids
Last week, as I searched for an old notebook in my old hope chest, I stumbled upon an accordion folder filled with poetry I had written as a child. I hadn't thought about it in years. Most of the poems were written around 4th grade through late high school, but the bulk of them were penned during everyone's favorite years...middle school. (Although, our school was called a Junior High, and I'm still not sure of the difference).
I took a few moments to leaf through the loose pages and read the thoughts of my youth. Some of the early poems were innocent and naive, like a haiku called The Hare, which I distinctly remember writing for an assignment in 4th grade.
The poems were typed in a somewhat chronological order, pulled from my old journals in order to save them from the eminent purge-rebellion building within me at the time. (I tossed two garbage bags full of notebooks!)
As I read further, a shift occurred that clearly indicated I had entered the pre-teen/teen years. Suddenly, willow trees and bunnies made way for some of the absolute worst love poems ever written.
With each line, I could feel my stomach curdle with embarrassment. I remembered crafting those gems, thinking they were so emotional and deep. Ugh. It was like the "naked in your old high school hallway" dream. But no one else had ever read these childish, basic, naive, embarrassing poems except me, so I was safe.
Coincidences and Patterns
Coincidences, when noticed, make for great writing ideas. Noticing patterns of recurring words, phrases, or themes is a skill I have developed over the years, and I use it to spark inspiration.
A few days after my accordion file discovery, I had pretty much forgotten about it, when I came across the title to an article from becomingminimalist.com :
Those Things By Which We Get Embarrassed
Immediately, the Accordion File of Horrible Poetry popped into my mind. The article was more about why people are embarrassed by the lack of material possessions, or by comparing their lifestyles to others and feeling substandard. The title of the article sidled up to my own experience of embarrassment earlier in the week, and I felt compelled to pull out the old poems again.
This time, I read the really bad love poems more carefully and I languished in the embarrassing verses. Eventually, I was able to laugh at my teenage self and think about how far I have grown as a person and a writer since then. At least I hope I have.
I decided a great way to show that it's okay to expose your failings would be to share these embarrassing poems, especially in a world where everyone is so obsessed with posting their perfectly-filtered lives on line.
I hope they give you a laugh, or at least make you feel better your own teenage failings.
So now, without further delay, I give you three of the worst poems from my teenage collection. There were so many, I found it difficult to whittle down. I would love to hear your thoughts, even votes for the best-worst poem.
1. More To Me -- spot the cliche
2. Turn To Me -- I think I may have lifted the last three lines from a song featured in the show "Joanie Loves Chachi". It was, at the very least, an inspiration.
3. Mistake -- Seriously, why was a naive preteen girl writing about sharing a bed with anyone? Clearly watching too many soap operas.
There you have it. I hope you've enjoyed this trip down embarrassing memory lane. As for me, I'm just going to place this bag over my head...
I write novels and poetry and this blog.