Some years ago, I visited my grandmother and we went on a long walk to the far end of the village. During our time together, she told me so many stories of her salad-days; I cannot remember all now but one thing that has struck me since then was about how she left writing poetry.
I have heard from her friends that my grandmother unlike other girls of her age when she was young, would spend a lot of time alone; meditating on life and sometimes imagining herself to be a bird. “She was always seen with a book and a pen, writing poetry in the fields.”, a friend of hers once told me.
“In my early twenties, I was known as ‘the-poet-in-the-making’ in our village.”, my grandmother told me on our walk. “Most of my poems are melancholic for writing poetry had always been an escape for me. It was a friend whom I could turn to when I felt low. I also used to write poems that were beyond the personal. I loved speaking on behalf of the sad people to let know that they were not alone. I wrote about the heartbreaks of people I know and even about heartbreaks I neither felt, nor I had known of.”
“When I was twenty nine, I experienced a traumatic obstacle to my writing. My little sister, my closest friend, Kenny drowned in the ocean while on a family trip to Hawaii. She was only twenty four then. Nobody could save her, it was a tragic death. I had been through some severe heartbreaks prior to this dreadful incident. I have lost friends, broken up with my boyfriend, failed in papers and so on. I used to look for solace in writing because it had always been a comfort and an escape for my burdened heart. But none of these losses hit me as hard as Kenny’s death did. I stopped writing forever.”
She wiped her tears and I could see unfiltered heartbreak in each teardrop that fell onto her wrinkled cheeks.
She went on saying, “I had became terribly sad and weak within. I thought penning down my emotions would help me like it used to but surprisingly, I could write nothing. The paper remained blank and the pen, unused. The more I stared at the paper, the more I felt as though it was piercing my heart. I learned that no words were enough to express how bitter I felt within. Months passed and so did years. I am eighty now and it has already been fifty one years since I wrote a single poem.”
I pitied my grandmother for how badly she had been hit by the loss. She could not put her feelings into words anymore. From this, I learned that writing poetry is not the act of sad and weak people. When writers remain strong despite their sadness, they express their emotions through any medium. Poetry is the medium I would choose to express my poet- grandmother’s pain for her. Weakened by
trauma, she could no longer write . Perhaps if there had been another poet there to encourage her to write about her sorrow, she could have regained her strength and her poetry writing. Sad poetry does not mean the poet is weak. It shows how strong he/she is despite being massively hurt ; when a person is hurt and weak within as my grandmother was, they cannot write down their feelings at all.
Not all sad people write and not all sad poetry is written by unhappy poets.