I Used to Be a Poet

The title of this blog has the word “poem” in it because I used to be a poet. Long long ago in a galaxy far far from graduate school, dirty laundry, raisins in the couch or tampons in the heater vent. In that intersection of time and space, I wrote and wrote…because I read and read and read.

Last Sunday night I accompanied a dear friend to a holiday work party. We met a lovely gay man named Butchy. Since my evening had to that point consisted of  pac-man, beer, fruit ninja, shuffleboard, and a lemon drop martini, I confessed that I, too, wrote poems. Long ago. But not anymore. Because: Graduate School. Disarray. Toddlerdom.

Butchy has no children, so naturally he called b-s. He actually said: “That’s no excuse.”

I hit him.

But he’s a guy, so he didn’t notice. Also: lemon drops.


I am still light years away from writing anything like the poems I used to write.

I tried writing this morning. I got as far as “raisins” before I realized there is a very good reason that moms blog instead of poet. Poetry requires a level of creative sustenance (aka READING OTHER POEMS) that doesn’t happen during fourteen consecutive readings of “Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You?”

So while I don’t have a poem of my own to share, here’s one of my favorite poems. I discovered the work of Kansas-born anti-war Oregon poet Bill Stafford when I started college at Willamette in 1992. I have many favorites of his, but this one is on writing…because a little part of my mama brain has suddenly wondered if maybe not-writing is one reason for the feet-dragging slow burn of sadness that has been dogging my heels lately.

An Oregon Message: the first book of Bill's I bought in 1992

An Oregon Message: the first book of Bill’s I found

When I Met My Muse

by William Stafford

I glanced at her and took my glasses
off–they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched. “I am your own
way of looking at things,” she said. “When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation.” And I took her hand.


A sort of salvation. That’s what I need. So, tell me: What sustains your creative spirit? How do you nurture creativity in the midst of everyday disarray?

5 thoughts on “I Used to Be a Poet

  1. It isn’t so much nurturing creativity for me these days as carving out a regular time slot for writing to rise in me or nurture me. Often, this means me in a parked car with a notebook while my daughter is in an after school class. Except now it’s winter in the Midwest, dark early and frigid cold. It’s hard. But when she was a toddler? Harder still. I barely wrote at all then.

    • Oh I know the parked car! I try to remember to keep my journal with me for when nap attacks happen, but I usually forget. Glad to know I’m not alone. And yes, carving out time. It’s hard.

  2. I was away from my writer self for over a decade and just came back to her in the last year. Two things have really helped me maintain creativity: writing groups through Portland Women Writers; and an online writing community called Trifecta Writing Challenge. Sending you encouragement and a reminder that I love reading your writing.

    • Thanks Meg! I was a member of a women’s writing group for many years and left them shortly before we adopted our daughter. Maybe it’s time to think about going back…

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