My winning poem from 1999 at Weber State University

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These days, I don’t write much poetry, but back in college, I was rather enamored with the idea of being a poet. I actually won Weber State University’s poetry contest in 1999. I have a great story about how this poem came about, but first the poem:

 

Fluids gone sour…Ripe for the Thirsty

And as Anne said, she drank—a lot—because
that’s what writes do. I cannot write like
  Hemmingway.
Do I have to look the part—drink the part?
My paper is wet. Smells funny. Some odd
  White-out replacement
smeared ink into design, squinted into place
through likeness to great ones and I am
  small.
I walk with a small notebook because dead
people did it, and they are worthy of
  being replicated
as if I cannot be me and a writer. Damn Emerson
for his way. I have conformity enough.

 

Yeah, that poem beat out some great poets of my time at school, including Abel Keogh and Emily Peterson Whitby, who were and still are talented writers.

This poem was lifted from my writing journal almost verbatim. I still have the journal somewhere around here, but I’m not going digging for it. I was in a journal writing class and as a part of the class we were required to journal meticulously. We studied writers who journaled, including the hows. The Anne in the poem was Anne Lamott from Bird by Bird, which I had just finished. I was feeling conflicted. Did I have to become someone else to be successful as a writer? My beliefs made some of that conformity difficult and I wasn’t really interested in the “hard living” method of generating art. I guess I was rebelling from the notion that I had to be a certain way or live a certain way.

That discovered poem I lifted from my journal/poetic rambling won the poetry contest that year.

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