I wrote a response to Meredith Lewis’ prompt May you never which details how I stopped writing poetry for years.
But how I returned can only be described as a subtle gentling.
In every role, whether programmer or system manager or desktop support or service manager, I was always writing whether diaries for recollection and in some cases self-protection, or instructions on how to solve that problem I fixed three months ago or the usual paraphernalia of memos, emails, etc.
But one company I worked for asked me to join their unofficial speakers group. I thought to take this this on because I’ve debated in high school and carried out public speaking. And my then wife said my voice was boring. So I thought I’d do something about it.
And it was fun. Six or so people swapping speeches and poems. I can even remember reciting Possum Magic for Australia Day. And CJ Dennis’ The Singing Soldiers. But the format was restrictive and the soiree decided to reach out to Toastmasters resulting in a corporate club being founded.
I had to really speak now. Yes I did my ten introductory speeches which was mixed especially the timely second one (See Horse and Carriage or Unfinished Symphony. Once done I had to choose the next speech module. And the storytelling one leapt out at me : because my father Kevin Whalan is a storyteller (and journalist).
And it wasn’t as easy as he made it out to be. For in truth one had to rehearse a story to the point one is utterly sick of it which in fact is the key to telling it naturally. And I can remember listening to my voice trying to find the best rhythms and pace and tone to tell the story in the most compelling way. And I’d stop and start again. And despite the immense frustration leading up to each speech, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, as if I was always a storyteller.
And I was still writing. And somewhere amongst all my short stories and the two broken novels other more rhythmic snippets of words and phrases started to appear.
And naturally I started collating and combining these Post-It Notes into something that started to resemble : poetry. As if I always was a poet. But I kept that to myself.
By then I was part of a Melbourne writers group. One evening the convenor suggested stepping outside of the pub and reading some of our work. At that time I had written an instant poem called The Measure of Each Other inspired by Adele’s song Hello. And it was about not contacting my ex wife and not ever totalling up our relationship with each other. And the poem sang!
And the irony was that the person who had taken poetry away from me was the one through whom I got it back!!