On Writing Poetry

My mother was an amateur artist who specialized in portraits. In spite of the fact that her art teacher told her she had too much talent for commercial art she said she thought she would have been happy as a commercial artist.  She never pursued “serious” art, a field which is notoriously hard to break into. Instead she married my father and painted on the side.  She gave most of the paintings away.  As far as I know she only sold a couple of sketches.  This was, I think, mostly from lack of motivation. 

I decided not to become a professional musician in part because of her example;  I wanted to be able to earn my living and I also  wasn’t convinced I wanted to devote full time to music. I *never* thought about being a writer.  I ended up finally as a computer software engineer.  I’ve been in the field for many years now. 

I am still an active amateur musician.  I play the flute and the piccolo and belong to a band.   My inspiration for this was the father of a family friend, the husband of a close friend of my mother’s, who was an amateur violinist.  He was a jeweler, I believe, and played in a string quartet (amateur) that met every week.  He encouraged me to keep playing even though I didn’t intend to make it my career. 

My mother said that he wasn’t as good a violinist as he thought he was but that wasn’t the point. He was a role model, an adult amateur musician.  I suspect that I wouldn’t still be playing today if it weren’t for him.  And I hope he’s up there listening. 

I more or less fell into writing poetry.  I began writing more poetry about fifteen years ago when I started dating my partner and it snowballed. I wrote rather casually, not even keeping track of my poems, until a couple of years ago, and I didn’t start really working until about a year ago.  

My mother and my father come out very differently in my writing.  I’ve written a couple of poems that are directly about my father that I like a lot but none that I think are of the same caliber directly about my mother.  On the other hand, I find that Hungarian food, and food in general, comes up quite often in my writing and *that* is about my mother.  My mother’s mother was Hungarian and the food influence came from her.  

I find surprising things come out in my poetry.   I wrote the poem below when I was *really really* annoyed with my partner,  mostly about  cooking stuff  and I got to the line about wanting to hit her with the soup pot. My reactions went something like:

  My God, that’s awful.

  I can’t put that in.

  I *have to* put that in.

I had to put the line in because, for me anyway, poetry is about truth and that’s where my truth was. I’ve had a number of moments like that, moments where I realize that I had something on my mind, or was worried about something, or whatever, because it came out in a poem. 

It was only later that I saw the humor. 

Here’s the poem.  It was published in the June, 2006 Humdinger (http://www.humdingerzine.com/):

Bitter

 I don’t want to hear how unhappy you are

because I didn’t buy any Roast Beef at the deli

or because I made Chili from Dave’s recipe

with the six tablespoons of Chili powder

and Minestrone

with the rind from the Parmesan cheese in the broth

just like Marcella does.  

It was enough to make me want to hit you

with the soup pot.  

And if you’re ever happy with my cooking,

then please tell me.  

But I’m not holding my breath.

 

All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission of the author

About the Author:

Born and raised in New York City, Margaret Fieland has been around art and music all her life. She is an accomplished flute and piccolo player and the daughter of a painter. Her poems have appeared in Main Channel Voices, Gentle Strength Quarterly and Twisted Tongue among others. You may visit her website, www.margaretfieland.com

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