How Poetry Found Me

On my last post, someone commented wondering how it was that I got into writing poetry, so today I decided to post about it.

When I was about 10 years old, or possibly younger, my mom was teaching a writing class at my school to the 9th and 10th graders. Somewhere in there I overheard her talking to her class about limericks. The idea of words having that specific of a rhyme and rhythm pattern fascinated me, and I immediately tried my hand at limerick writing. The poems that came out of that stage were weird and disjointed, but they sparked an interest in poetry that has only grown since.

It was around that time that my sister Amy purchased a book of poems by Emily Dickinson, and sometimes she would read them to me before bed. I loved these poems so much that I would memorize them and quote them to myself under by breath before I fell asleep at night. My favorites were “A Wounded Deer” and “Success Is Counted Sweetest”.

It was Emily Dickinson’s poems that inspired me to branch out of limerick writing and try different poetry styles. However, my topics were still a bit odd. I distinctly remember one poem about a sick girl who danced at midnight and that cured her of her sickness. Another I wrote with a friend, who shall remain nameless to save her from embarrassment, was centered around a girl who loved a boy and basically stalked him, but then he ended up marrying her sister.

When I turned 13 I started going to the ACE Conventions, and I began to write and enter poems there. My first one was about an Anabaptist man named Dirk Willems, and, to my surprise, it placed second. The next year I wrote about my great-great grandpa (you can find the poem here) and I placed first. Our school went to Internationals that year, and I took my poem, and it placed 4th out of 86 entries. Needless to say, I was quite proud of myself.

I entered poems at Regionals the next two years as well (you can find them here and  here) and I placed first both years. The second one I took to Internationals, and I won first there as well.

But poetry isn’t just something I love to write, I also love to read and recite it. In fact, here’s a list of some of my favorite poems:

“Song of Slaves in the Desert” by John Greenleaf Whittier


“Stanzas on Freedom” by James Russel Lowell


“‘Hope’ is the Thing With Feathers” by Emily Dickinson


“If” by Rudyard Kipling


Of course, there are many more that I love, including pretty much anything Longfellow wrote (at least that I’ve read).

I think what I love most about poetry is that it needs structure. It’s more than just finding words, it’s finding the exact right words, finding words that fit the rhyme, and fit the rhythm, and sound cool too. When I feel like my life is unstructured and chaotic, poetry is the outlet that provides me with some structure, and helps me to make sense of my life.

So, that’s the story of how I started writing poetry, and why I love it so much. If you have any poems that you love, comment and tell me what they are, and I’ll read them and probably love them as well.

This was Day 9 of the April Blogging Challenge. You can read Day 8 on Mom’s blog, and Day 7 on Emily’s blog.

I hope you all have a great day!


8 thoughts on “How Poetry Found Me

  1. I really love the poem about your great-great grandfather! What a blessing a godly heritage is! Keep writing — you have a gift that can bless and encourage others!

  2. My mom recited and collected poems, I was steeped in it! A poem I really like is “Indwelling” by T. E. Boulton. And Amy Carmichael… “Wounded”…

  3. This post is an excellent summary of the influences that have shaped your poetry writing. Thank you for the history; and thank you for the links as well. It is obvious that you love poetry. Congratulations once again for winning multiple awards for your poems at the ACE conventions. Since you asked, two favorite poems that I memorized in childhood as a fifth grader (and can still recite much of) are: by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and by John Greenleaf Whittier. Both always evoke a touch
    of nostalgia. I also memorized Scripture as a child and still do–with my most recent, and favorite, memory passage being I Thessalonians 4:13-18.

  4. For some reason the poem titles which I did include in my previous comment did not post. For that reason I will try again, but leave out certain punctuation this time: The Village Blacksmith by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and In School Days by John Greenleaf Whittier.

  5. One of my favorite poets in James Whitcomb Riley. He was from my hometown, and a lot of his poetry was about his (my) hometown (Greenfield Indiana). It’s lovely, not just because of nostalgia. Riley was actually very popular throughout the Midwest when he was alive, and gave many poetry readings all over the middle United States. People responded because they related to it. If writers should write about what they know, well, the same goes for poets.
    “Up and Down Ol Brandywine” is a great one – (here’s a bit)
    Up and down old Brandywine! …
    Stripe me with pokeberry-juice!–
    Flick me with a pizenvine
    And yell ‘Yip!’ and lem me loose!

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