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Category: Poetry

It’s never too late to (re)-start doing anything

Hello everyone, we meet again.

After publishing on how I write my poems earlier last week, I realize that I actually hardly know anything about poetry. I simply write, based on my little understanding and belief of how it should be, or sound.

I discussed with a friend, about the famous poets versus the ‘poet’ poets. The ‘poet’ poets that we talked about are those people who are really the master of words and literature, doctorate in poetry I supposed. Their pieces are often too abstract and normal people like us might have some struggle to understand them. I guess, that’s just art.

While the famous poets (and they are typically famous on Instagram), they speak in a soothing language people instantly get addicted to. Their poems are flowery and beautiful but at the same time, way easier to understand, sometimes I wonder, is that even poetry at all – it just sounds like love letters to me. Writers like Lang Leav and Najwa Zebian have massive followings on the net and their copies sold in millions around the world. They write to reach and inspire people.

These two categories are not necessarily different from each other, it’s just the balance of internal and external factors. The passion for art versus the intention to touch people’s heart. (No pun intended but that rhymes!)

Looking at both and wondering where I stand, sadly I don’t think I fall into either category.

First, I have almost zero qualification in literature. Even my English is struggling.

Second, I don’t think people can easily relate to my poems. That’s because, I hardly think about the audience while I write. My poems are always written for one person hahah, and even that one person sometimes doesn’t get it.

But, it’s never too late to do anything. And it’s never too late to (re)-start wherever you are.

I’m in the midst of compiling all my poems for a poetry book. I already have around 40-ish number of poems ready and currently writing more to stretch to 100. Being rejected by publishers are normal for new writers, I’m very aware of that. But at least, I don’t want to look so stupid upon my submission. I want to have better foundation of what I’m doing, of what I love doing. It’s like you claim that you’re a chef and you love cooking but your food taste funny.

And so, maybe I need to dig more on other people’s pieces to know what the audience love to ‘eat’. I’m aspired to have the balance of both – to be that ‘poet’ poet everyone can relate to. For that, I’m also currently learning poetry literature basic to brush up my skills and hopefully I’ll get better in this!

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How I Write My Poems

I prepared dinner so quickly, it’s not even 7 yet (Iftar today at 7:25 pm) and now I’m too tired to do anything already i.e cleaning my house and laundry. So, I took my laptop out (she’s nice today Alhamdulillah) and think maybe I could  just sit here and free-write.

Hello blogosphere,

First of all, Selamat Berbuka Berpuasa if you’re a Muslim.

Secondly, in case if you’re wondering, free-writing is a pre-writing technique in which a person writes continuously for a set period of time without regard to spelling, grammar, or topic. It produces raw, often unusable material, but helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and self-criticism. Source

So here I am free writing, or free blogging if you would like to call it. I do this all the time. I figure out what I’m writing about when it’s already half way through the process. And that’s mostly applied to my journal entry, or a blog post like this.

But I think, it’s quite different when I’m writing a poem.

A girlfriend (with her cute little kids) staying over at my place last week asked me about my poems. She’s amazed on how I choose certain words over certain words in my poems and she’s curious about my whole process of writing it. Is it really like jotting down prophecy or random inspiration? She said that every line sounds like different stories but as a whole, go well with each other. I take that as a compliment though I sometimes cringed re-reading most of my pieces – too many grammatical errors and awkward combination of words.

So, I told her about my workflow trying to convince her it actually can be done by anyone. Oh yes, there’s a workflow.

If there’s even prophecy in writing poems, it’s only one thing. The feelings. I think feelings are the core to a poem. At least for me. Other elements are mostly composable and there’s always a way to work around it.

#1 The trigger – feelings!

My steps are; first, I’ll write down that feeling. It’s like describing a situation. Sometimes a story, but a short one.

This is the skeleton. The details, the sequence or arrangement doesn’t matter at this point, I just need to get the setting and the feel; how I want the readers to be impacted after reading the poem.

#2 The words. All the words

Then I’ll write as many words and phrases as possible to describe the feeling in both languages English and Malay. I’ll also think about the possible metaphors or similes that I can use. This is the step where ‘brainstorming’ happen. The paper will look like a mind map with clouds of words everywhere rather than lines after lines of sentences

#3 The puzzle

I don’t know how everyone else is doing this but my composing step starts when I put the story and all the words altogether like playing a puzzle. This is the most fun part of the process, it’s like fashion designing and mix-matching the words to get the best outfits, in this case, the poem.

Resources

My English is not so perfect so I used Grammarly to check my grammar (there’s a premium version of Grammarly and I just use the free one) I go to Rhymer.com to find words that rhyme, I think Rhymer.com is the top secret here. I discover many new words from there and my vocabulary improves each time I completed a poem.

Apart from that, I also rely on Thesaurus a lot and simply, the Google. You have no idea how extensive the research just to compose a single line. I believe it’s the same thing when someone is writing a book. Not just doing research, but a writer will also try different jobs and stay at different places just to experience different characters for their books!

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Kertas

I had Iftar with my classmates from high school today. The food at Baba Nyonya in Avenue K was nice, or perhaps I was just hungry. Fasting duhh.

Reminiscing the old time like all school reunions always do, one of them share a story, something about me that I’ve already forgotten.

She said that, I once wrote a poem entitled, ‘Kertas

Kertas what?!

and so when she told us about it, she even remembered some details, maybe it was funny to her hahah. It is funny to me now that I can recall it.

Something like,

Kertas,
ada saiz A3
ada saiz A4

(err..)

Kertas itu
Tajam
Bisa melukakan hati

Oh gosh, did I write that? *Cringed.

She said that I recited the poem in front of everyone when I was in Form 3 or Form 4 – the 15 or 16 year old A’ishah if I would like to visualise it. I just can’t imagine how bad have I embarrassed myself back then.

But it gets to me that, this 15 year old A’ishah was more fearless at being herself and didn’t care what other people think about her, more than how she could afford to do now.

And it also makes me realised that maybe poetry, really is my passion. I’ve written many poems during high school but I didn’t really appreciate them, I’ve lost them all. Back then, I was just expressing myself, playing with words #beingjiwang and mostly kept them in my journals. I still love doing it for myself despite knowing it does make me look weird and less relatable to the rest of my peer.

For open scenes other than reciting Kertas in front of the cooler kids, I remember myself writing poems for the school magazine and especially for the National Day celebration, almost every year without fail. Weirdo kid on the stage reciting something that she wrote by herself on patriotism, with full force of emotion.

I was such a freak. I guess, I still am.

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