I made a promise to myself a few years ago. Being an avid reader and a lover of literature of all sorts, I wanted to challenge myself to take a creative writing class once I was in college. My first semester came and went, yet I still had not fulfilled that promise. At the start of the second semester it resurfaced within my mind. However, after speaking with an academic advisor I found that the Creative Writing class was full, but I did not stop there—with the help of my Intermediate English professor, I snagged a spot!
When I attended the lecture (on unread chapters from a textbook I had yet to order) my professor spoke about poetry. Poetry is a subject I deeply respect, but do not fully understand. On days I feel particularly eclectic, I may attend an open mic to hear it being read. Poetry just is not as potent to me unless it’s written out and I am handed a pen to dissect different aspects of it. Quite frankly, I’m also terrified of the idea of having to write within a very specific structure and rhyming scheme. So it is safe to say, I went to my first class feeling a bit apprehensive.
In class we spent time reading and analyzing poems, but then the teacher challenged us to do the one thing I had been dreading—to free write! Right then and there, just start writing! He encouraged us to write a poem by taking a certain object and comparing it to perhaps a person or an idea. He gave some examples of a few clichés, like comparing a rose to a girl or a dagger to the tongue.
I gazed at my lined sheet of paper without triumph and began rethinking my decision to take up that class so hastily. I brought my gaze to the white board and had a sudden yet unfortunate inspiration: dry erase markers! No.
And then they kept coming.
No—that can quickly become a cliché.
I can do better!
Looking at my hand: A pen?
I think I’m on the right track—
I like that.
Putting my fixation with office supplies aside, I began writing . . .
He was like a pencil.
And the words began to flow, by the end of the class I had nearly finished my poem. My professor pulled me aside and introduced himself, he also shared a bit of information that caught me by surprise—we were to present our poems to a small group of people and workshop them by next class. He also informed me that I did not have to present, upon my recent transfer. However, when I looked down at my scrawled poem I felt a surge of confidence and told him I would, in fact, be able to share my poem. Within those couple of days my poem changed very little aside from the fact that I had typed it up. After reading it to a small group of girls (a few of whom were English majors and knew what they were doing—God is so good!) who were able to give me a ton of suggestions, yet were so kind in the delivery that I felt utterly encouraged to revise it. Upon many more revisions after the first, alas, I give you, kind readers, my first poem:
The Artist’s Hand
He was like a dwindling pencil:
The writer’s firm grasp insisted
the pencil to form
Arbitrarily, the pencil wrote on.
Alas, there was a snap.
The Artist picked up
the injured pencil.
He wore away the rigid edges,
Formed a sharpened peak.
Another writer grasped the pencil.
Foreign characters took form
On old surfaces, like bygone habits
And the pencil was broken and defiled.
Once again the Artist sharpened it.
The pencil always fell
In the hand of an unknown writer.
The Artist redeemed
the fading pencil.
Wood shavings shed
And each layer told its tragic tale.
With splintering fear,
the pencil awaited its next writer.
This time was different from the others.
In the Artist’s hand the pencil remained,
And the pencil drew for the first time,
With sweet, gentle strokes.
Oh, but we are all in the hands of the sweet and so patient artist. He is always there in the midst of tragedy, and he calls us and renews us. We truly honor a wonderful God who invites us to be co-artists in His fathomless and beautiful picture.
So let’s draw, my sweet readers!
P.S. I declared a minor in Creative Writing.