Written by Ami Mattison
Do you write poetry but rarely if ever share it with other people?
Does anyone even know you write poetry? Are you reluctant to call yourself a poet? Do you dream of publishing your poetry, but can’t bring yourself to move forward towards that aspiration?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you’re probably a closet poet, or a poet who hasn’t yet formally and publicly claimed that identity and embraced the full significance of his or her poetry and creative process.
Life in the Poetry Closet
In college, I was a closet poet. When a renowned poet Adrienne Rich visited our school, I was excited and eager to meet her. When I did, she asked me point-blank: “Are you a poet?” While I wrote poetry, and I was indeed a poet, I rarely shared my poetry with others and I had never publicly claimed that identity. So, my reply was: “No, I’m not a poet, but my friends are.”
At the time, I thought poets were only those artists who wrote brilliant poetry, not someone who, like me, was a mere beginner and who, like me, wasn’t formally trained to write poetry.
Why Come Out?
If you’re a closet poet and you’re reading this article, then you probably possess a deep desire to own your identity as a poet, to share your poetry with others, and to improve your writing skills.
By sharing your poetry with other poets and supportive friends and family members, you may just receive the necessary ego-boost and inner drive to work harder to improve your writing.
Plus, when done in a thoughtful way, sharing your poetry is fun and deeply rewarding, and you can’t reap the benefits of those rewards until you come out of the poetry closet.
Most significantly, if you’re dreaming of publishing your poetry, you won’t be able to take yourself or your poetry seriously enough to do so, until you come out as a poet.
Stepping Out as a Poet
If you’re a closet poet and desire the benefits of claiming your inner poet and sharing your poetry with others, here are some small, simple steps that might help you:
- Investigate your inner obstacles. Ask yourself: What’s preventing me from taking up the mantle of “poet” or “writer” or “artist”? Fear commonly keeps poets in the closet. We’re afraid of failure, afraid of success, and afraid of sharing our innermost thoughts and experiences with others. Also, sometimes, we judge our poetry to be “not good enough” to be shared. However, you might consider that all poets write bad poetry on occasions, and you simply will not be able to improve your poetry unless you claim your inner poet and start sharing your poetry.
- Claim your identity as a poet. Let me make this simple: If you love writing poetry, then you’re a poet. You may not be a professional poet or a published poet or even a great poet…yet, but nonetheless, your love for poetry and the fact that you write poetry are enough to claim yourself as a poet. So, say to yourself: “I’m a poet.” More significantly, tell others that you’re a poet. It’s by sharing with others the most profound parts of who we are that we come to empower our creative selves.
- Share your poetry with others. These days, there are so many ways to share your poetry. Show some of your poems to supportive friends and family members. Or run an internet search and find a local open mic where you can read your poetry. Or start a poetry blog on Blogger orWordPress. Or run a search and join an online social networking site for writers. Or take a workshop or join a writer’s group. Find ways to share your poetry that make you feel comfortable and safe until you’re willing to take bigger steps and larger risks.
Trust and Empower Your Inner Poet
When it’s time to come out as a poet and to start sharing your poetry with others, then you’ll feel it—an inner desire, a kind of bursting at the seams to let loose your inner poet and to write openly, freely, and confidently.
You may need to empower your inner poet by flexing your creative self-esteem, going head-to-head with your inner critic, and building a positive relationship with your inner coach before you feel secure and confident enough to claim your poet identity and start sharing your poetry.
However, in the end, all you really need in order to come out as a poet and to start sharing your poetry is creative desire, a dash of courage, and a little faith.