Someone asked me when I started writing poems.
Growing up in the summers my mom would make us "charts." We did them everyday of the summer, and got paid $2 per day, totaling $10 a week. Everyday there were constants: Practice the piano, practice the violin, read 40 minutes, play a game with your sisters, ride around the block three times." And then everyday there was a bonus job. Sometimes they were crazy things like, "Drink 6 glasses of water," which, to a 10 year old meant waiting until 10:00 pm, sitting down with the smallest cup, and drinking until you felt sick. Sometimes it said, "Ask mom for a chore," or "Learn 10 new facts." But my favorites, the bonuses - were ones that said, "Write a poem about rainbows." "Write a story about a girl who lost her dog." "Write a poem about fireflies."
Those prompts were the most delicious part of my day. I would brainstorm all day about the colors of the rainbow and approach my mom with questions like, "What rhymes with Indigo?" (RIP Indigo) or, "Is there a length requirement?" Summer charts showed me that making words fit together so nice and neat was my way of organizing. Organizing my thoughts, my energy, my imagination into this little set of words that told a story, or stimulated images or made you happy.
In school there is always a sort of competition that goes along with writing poetry. Whose is longest? Or, whose rhymes best? But I feel like poetry was never given the proper attention it deserved at school. What was left out (at least of my curriculum) was that poetry was supposed to make you feel something. Anger, bliss, melancholy. Anything.
I am not a professional poet, and maybe I never will be. But you have to start somewhere. And I started on fresh summer mornings, while I rode my bike around the block, or played scales on the piano, or ran through the sprinklers. In that dry, summer heat I thought about yellow, orange, indigo... and what would come next. And those thoughts never really stopped.
And that, my friends is how a poet is born.
(or at least a poet hopeful.)