When I left for The Watering Hole 2nd Annual Poet’s Retreat held at Santee State Park in South Carolina, I just wanted to simply be a better poet. I didn’t have any other way to say my goal than to be better at my craft in addition to making connections with other poets of color. No specifics, no one area of improvement just a very general goal.
I returned home after five days and four nights baptized. Not in the literal sense but that is how I feel. Cleansed of past doubts and filled with renewed inspiration. I believe that I have validity as a poet and most of all a black female poet. I am not an angry snapping vagina female poet but I am a poet with a vagina who does get angry. I learned that I have my own unique voice and I must be true to that voice within me.
I realized, I can only write from my own experience. I can only write my truth, record what I hear and see as I see it. Most importantly, I must be present in my own existence. No artist of any genre becomes great or better by not practicing their craft on a regular basis. Nor do they become better by not studying any other artist inside their genre as well as artist in other genres. So with that reality, I have set the following as goals going forth. Not merely New Year resolutions but a better me the poet resolutions.
- Write consistently at least seven hours minimum each week. Whether one hour a day or two hours every other day but log seven hours putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
- Study poet ancestors such as Brooks, Baldwin, and Hughes to name a few as well as Keats and Dickerson and others.
- Study my poet mentors Nikky Finney; Frank X Walker; Kwame Dawes; Patricia Smith; Mariahhadessa Ekere Tallie; Roger Bonair-Agard; Edward Madden; and Charlene Spearen.
- Study contemporary poets and my peers.
- Do not focus solely on being published or getting additional letters behind my name but sharing my truth.
This renewed energy comes during the slumber of 2014 and the birth of 2015 but as stated earlier it is not a New Year resolution. It is a poet resolution that I will carry through to many years to come. Finally, I am energized that my unique voice needs to be shared with the universe. I cannot be someone else’s voice.
The late Steve Jobs a poet of invention stated, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
It is so true our time is finite in this space, we must be true to self. Most importantly we must try to leave the better part of ourselves for future generations.
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