I was born hungry! By the time I was 9 months old, Mother would brag, I turned crying into words and occasionally a short sentence with clear intention like “more (s)paghetti” and “I want up”. I must have sensed that language was power and to participate in the banquet of discourse allowed me to be, however fleeting, a little more considered. As a youngster, I started dishing-out verbal pearls connected as little poems and songs without concern for rules. In my high school years, I wrote to challenge sadness and anxiety, gifted by my genetic pool, force-fed through the traumas I swallowed whole! I saved my poems of sorrow, rage, and running away between drawings in a sketchpad an art teacher had given to me. I had to write. It was the clearest path to making sense of chaos.
In the summer of my 16th year my tattered poems and drawings joined me in an interview with the admissions counselor traveling to Connecticut from a private junior college in Pennsylvania. I was chosen! It was the school’s first Early Admissions Talent Search Campaign, summer, 1977. I would never have graduated high school if I remained in Lakewood Projects. I earned an “A” for my first two college English courses and felt destined to become a professional writer. I continued to write poetry and prose to sort through deeply digested Family shame and a persistent sense of guilt for escaping while leaving behind four siblings with a Mother who was more inclined toward self-medicating than being a compassionate single parent.
In college, I wrote to quiet the shock waves in my soul. I wrote to scream at the God I couldn’t find! I was born the third child in a field of five, just before Christmas, 1960. Our parents were throwaway kids themselves. I have long since forgiven them, mostly. We floundered in a very unpredictable and violent home. I wrote to beg to be heard. I wrote to scream at society for not noticing or ever offering to help. I wrote to see, on paper, all that I could never say. Putting a recollection on paper still allows me to leave my self THERE, to dissociate from feeling flawed or fraudulent, like “damaged goods”. In looking back at journal entries I often graze upon those raw observations as an exquisite appetizer awakening an appetite for finally writing the whole story, the main course, the memoire! I continue to write through hunger pains that cannot be silenced. I write to rid my mind of portioning out blame, absolutes, and paralyzing self-criticism. I write to invite the family of ideas starving on indifference, choking potential. I write to clear the push, the pull and the pain of injustice while keeping my emotional lens wide-open and brave. Occasionally, I thaw and reheat a leftover and season it with fresh alliteration or rhyme or current cleverness. Here’s an assignment poem (from a writing class in 1982) that I reworked and published nearly ten years later.
She’s got rhythm in her soul
Ambition spirals in her blood, a
Chorus belle. She will
Conjure-up new melodies
Animate swift hands
Tabulate instinctual staccatos
Orchestrate the harmony of lands.
This little poem, born with urgency, remains in its raw form. I memorized it as it was written because of its musicality. It continues to satisfy my ear. I love it when writing delivers simplicity while freeing a palate of emotional struggle. Writing is my delicacy.
Nothing is Every Thing
in anxious pain.
Can you really make much sense of it;
is there some grand design?
I have no answers to cast to feed the starving swine.
Sometimes I write to find the leanest, most organic answer to that lingering birthday hunger – to be loved, to feel heard, to be included. As I reached those rebellious teen years, I wrote with an urgency to inspire some collective agreement, a recipe for peace. I think that’s it; I gobbled-up language with hope and I still settle into writing hungry for a taste of peace. It is not for me alone, to feel satiated on writing’s ability to hypothesize answers to our most troubling concerns; I feel called to help set a table of ideas that invites the World Family to sup together. We remain hungry, the world of writing is a banquet of possibilities I crave to share.
© Reneé Marie 3/27/17