I no longer need
To be depressed to
Write a lot of poetry –
But maybe I need
To be depressed to
Write long and deep poetry
Copyright by Minh Tan on listed dated of completion.
Notes to this poem…
When I started writing poetry in my late teens, I was in a pretty bad place in life for a handful of years. It wasn’t abuse or anything tragic like that, but I was not enjoying life, let’s say it that way. Writing poetry was my escape. I was constantly thinking about poems I were composing, wanting to get them done, get ideas for new ones and start on them, too. Seeing comments about needing to be sad or depressed to be able to write poetry, from some of my favourite poets like Emily Dickinson and others, I fully bought into the idea. As life got better, I didn’t have a need to escape mentally and spiritually through poetry writing. I also didn’t have the time, wanting to think about other things about which I was more excited and interested. It was a beautiful theory that proved itself on both ends.
This year, though, has been different. I went back to Viet Nam for the first time since I left almost 35 years ago as a child refugee, and composed about 60 haikus there to capture the experience. I was quite happy for the most part. I got in the mode to capture things in short poems. Some were very insightful. Others were more literal. It didn’t take up a lot of my time as those poems I composed years ago, in sonnet or lyrical forms, among others. It often didn’t go as deep, either, but it left me satisfied with having a poem completed. I might have gotten hooked on that joy, and got more proficient, as I hadn’t really stopped since I got back.
I had written about 250 poems coming into this year from the past 24 years or so. I’m past 100 this year, with that batch of haikus composed in Viet Nam not yet published. They’re mostly in a collection in a contest entry with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) that is still being judged. Once it’s over, regardless of results, I’ll publish them here, with annotations for each haiku that would not have been entered in the CBC contest.
And I’m still feeling quite happy about life. 🙂
I guess that theory about needing to be depressed to write poetry was just a theory. It might be true for good, long and/or deep poetry, but definitely not just for poetry.
The O-series of poems are one stanza poems composed before I got onto writing haiku and tanka, and short poetry while in action or traveling by select means like plane or ferry. These poems are 3-9 lines long with at least one rhyming couplet, and not of the short forms just mentioned. For the sake of elegance, I just called the collection One.