Although the first works I wrote as a child were fiction and creative non-fiction, it was poetry that captured me. In the fourth grade, our city shuffled school districts and I ended up at another elementary school--a relief to my parents, who had witnessed my social struggles, but not to me, since I had to start over. I ended up meeting a lifelong friend who just happened to want to write poems together. We lived an artistic life then, exchanging books, collaborating on poems, and even going to a writer's conference at the behest of our teacher.
Throughout high school, I wrote. Though I was working on two novel-length projects at the time, I filled several notebooks with poems of all sorts: experimental freeform, perfectly-metered formal poems, translations, poems that used different languages, poems and translations in a fantasy language I developed for my writing project.
In college, I stopped writing long-form fiction, and my poetry writing also tapered off. I wrote some short stories, but after I applied to a poetry workshop--because yes, you have to apply to take a writing class at Princeton--and got rejected, I thought my poems were derivative, useless. (I took one fiction seminar, in a semester riddled with personal issues, where I was afraid to write in my authentic voice and I had no idea who Chimamanda Adichie was.)
Between 2007 and 2013, I wrote almost no poetry, but I kept coming back to the urge to create. When I enrolled at Goddard, I wanted to work on poetry, but it took a backseat to fiction-writing because that was my chosen genre, and writing a thesis in two years requires concentration. I also happened to work with advisors who were not poets in any way. However, I did write a few poems, and even got published thanks to a spur-of-the-moment Rilke translation and a poetry class I took from UWisc's Writing Center (they're a great resource).
I say this because I've dealt with impostor syndrome, the feeling that you don't really belong and are lying about what you are, in many forms--when I first went to Princeton, when I first went to graduate school, every day as I sit here and pretend to be a writer. But there has never been a genre of work where I feel more like an impostor than poetry.
This is stupid because I have had so much practice as a translator it's mind-numbing, and because I went out of my way at Goddard to study the density and intensity of poetic writing.
Yet, even though I will never claim that poetry is my main genre, it is an annoying habit I can't quit, so I might as well get better at it.
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