Saturday, 23 October 2021

Katie Schmid : part five

How did you first engage with poetry?

I think I first started writing poetry because it was short and I got praised for it. Being “good” at something was the only time I ever felt safe as a child, so I learned how to highlight beautiful things in my writing so I could keep the praise coming. I didn’t have a sense that I should want to say something in particular, I just liked how it felt and what it got me. 

I remember reading an Edna St. Vincent Millay poem and being “tested” on the meaning of it. Most of the teachers who taught poetry taught it like that: you put a coin in and pulled the lever and meaning came out, hooray! Then Li-Young Lee came to my school and read all these tender poems about bodies, and love, and his feelings about his father. So then for a while I thought about poetry as homage. I think that’s definitely a reductive 16-yr-old’s reading of what Li-Young Lee does in his work, (it’s often far closer to worship/ecstatic communion) but it got me thinking about how I could expand my ideas about what poetry could do. 

I did have a sense that poetry was something that someone did when they were bruised too easily, so I had a sense that it could be for me because I was always being told I was too sensitive. 

In high school I took a drawing class where the teacher told us that it took a really long time to be able to see something accurately, you had to stare for a long time. That was my first introduction to what art asks of you, to dig in and cultivate an angle of approach. That was one of my first lessons in writing, even if I didn’t know it. 

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