I like to write. I've always liked it, since the time I picked up the thick, red pencils in nursery school. I've always liked to write down my thoughts, and I have rarely shied away from sharing what is in my head.
I came across this article a few weeks ago about a project a woman named Madeline Schwartzman is doing where she asks random New Yorkers on the subway to write a poem. “People have so much to say,” she says. “It turns out everyone can write. It is so touching to talk to people. We share many of the same thoughts, desires, and experiences.”
She displays some of these poems on her website, 365 Day Subway: Poems by New Yorkers. Even a quick read-through of the first ones that pop on on the site makes for an interesting evening, for me anyway. I'm quite amazed that so many are willing to write. I can only imagine how many would refuse, but she says that there aren't that many that say no. Perhaps she can tell who might want to by looking at them...
Or maybe people have a great deal more to share than they think they do.
For me, poems are thoughts at their birth, not crafted into everyday "acceptable" prose. They are the things we are thinking, the words and phrases as the material that makes novels or essays, should we decide to mold them into those forms. Lumps of clay before they become vases.
But even lumps of clay are beautiful.
I suppose I'm inclined to share this because I've met lots of people who claim they are not writers. "I have nothing to say," they say. They pick up pens, or sit uncertainly in front of a blank page, a blank screen.
I think we all have things to say, but we are sometimes afraid that the things that will come out won't be perfectly crafted sentences and paragraphs, that we'll do it "wrong," or we'll "sound stupid."
But the nice thing about poetry is that it's not about sounding scholarly, or wise. It's about letting those "unworked thoughts" out, letting them breathe on paper or on screen. Sometimes, we go back to those words and nurse them up, re-phrase them, make them into a letter, a chapter, or a blogpost.
Sometimes, we leave them as they are: in their perfect imperfection.
Today, I am inspired by these people on the subways who shed their inhibitions and let their words come out without fear. What beautiful thoughts appear when we let them out of the confines of our heads. There is beauty being carried around by the people that pass me every single day.
What a comfort, and what a joy.