Write about changing your opinion – 31p31d

A hand explores
The reward is worth the risk

Personal Therapy

Poetry can be excellent therapy. It allows you to process the events in your life, both good and bad. Some people shy away from writing personal poems because they either don’t think their life is important enough to write about or because they fear opening up those emotions and rehashing painful moments in their lives. Writing about yourself and the things that happen to you can be difficult.

Processing Events

Learn to process the events in your life with poetry. You don’t have to start with the most painful events in your life. The problem with writing about major traumas is that is so difficult to capture them in words. When something horrible happens to you, words often seem inadequate. You can save writing about those events for when you are feeling particularly brave and strong. Start small. Start with the little stresses and minor conflicts that make up most days. Many times, it is the smaller moments in our lives, not the larger ones, which are the most telling and interesting.

You are a Character

One of the keys to writing about the events in your life is to accept yourself as a character. When you are writing about yourself, you are essentially writing a persona poem, and the persona is you. A person reading your poem is going to be viewing you as a character in the poem. They may understand that you are writing about yourself, but they will still be viewing you as a character that they are trying to interpret and connect with.

First or Third

Some people find it helpful to write about themselves in the third person. Using this technique they move even further toward viewing themselves as a character. This technique allows them to step outside of themselves and view the events in a more detached way. Some people are comfortable with that process, while others prefer to stay in the first person. I, for one, like to stay in the first person.

Honesty as Policy

Some people wonder how honest you have to be when writing about yourself and your life. They fear that if they veer from the exact events, that they will be lying. This depends on your point of view. I try to be as truthful as possible in my poems, but the problem with being utterly truthful is that you may not be comfortable letting other people read your poetry, especially those who might be involved in the events. In reviewing my old poems the other day, I came across one that I know would be very hurtful to a friend if I released it, so I left it sitting on my hard drive, unread by the world. I could fictionalize it a little more but in the end I would rather keep it private and let it be true than change so I could publish it.

There is no doubt that writing about yourself comes with a certain degree of personal risk, but I believe the reward is worth the risk. Not only do you get to process the events of your life, but with luck you get an interesting character to write about.

Today’s Poetry Assignment

Write about moment in which you changed your opinion about something. It could be something important, or something minor. The change is important. We often hold beliefs for years and years, only to find that a small change in circumstances alters everything.

If you are writing your poems somewhere other than this site’s comments, please take a moment to let us know you did the assignment and how you felt about it.

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  • poewar

    Nothing On

    It started when I was driving across the desert
    In a dusty gray minivan
    That happened to be on fire
    Although I didn’t notice that until later
    It was about then
    Or maybe after I put it out
    That I began to lose my opinions
    Although perhaps it was only then that I noticed

    I cared about politics
    And then I didn’t
    I rooted for teams
    And then I stopped
    I loved TV
    And then there was nothing on

    I seemed fine without opinions
    Occasionally something would spark anger
    Or love
    But for days between
    I just existed
    There were pills
    Some yellow
    Some pink or orange
    I took them and slept a lot

    I remember going to the grocery store
    With headphones on
    Playing songs on repeat
    Until they lost all meaning
    And staring at the food
    Wondering what was worth having

    I went for walks in the desert
    And wondered how far out I could go
    As the heat climbed
    And I ran low on water
    But I didn’t have any real opinion
    About when to turn around
    Although of course I did turn around
    Every time it mattered

    Jobs came and went
    We had money
    Then we didn’t
    Then we lost the house
    But still it didn’t quite impact
    And I carried on

    I stopped taking the pills
    I went to one funeral
    Then another
    I found a job that didn’t just end
    And the twins were born
    Crying
    Eating
    Pooping
    Sleeping
    Laughing
    Biting
    At some point the opinions started coming back
    But never as strong
    And my opinions
    They are just opinions
    They don’t occupy my time
    I have too much to do

  • Day 2. Changing Opinion

    That Girl

    He brought her out of the closet
    That girl draped around his neck
    like a brightly colored boa
    contrictor
    But, his eyes were soft – as soft
    and sparkling as his toddler eyes
    clutching his new teddy to his chest
    Satisfied – sighing –
    and so
    We too fell in love through eyes
    tightly squinted to let in only the
    good – in that girl
    We laughed and looked forward
    to a future together – a family
    ribboning into the future – our
    legacy wrapped up in that girl
    Until she shed her skin, uncoiled
    and struck – venom dripping from
    unsheathed fangs

  • A Nice Guy

    He had hair that hung over his
    forehead and large hands that
    made her feel small and delicate
    and then one day drinking coffee
    his easy smile vanished and his
    crinkled eyes cooled and those
    hands smashed the mug into
    her lip and into slivers on the tiled
    floor and those hands grabbed her
    hair and he whispered not words
    of love and poetry but
    “clean it up” and no matter
    what sad stories he had told of
    childhood injustice – nice dissolved
    in his hot breath on her neck
    forever

  • Leigh Spencer

    Crunchy Peanut Butter

    When I was a kid
    we were pretty poor

    One bedroom apartment
    my parents making do
    in a Castro Convertible
    disguised by day
    as a hideous green plaid sofa

    Entertainment center
    was a shoe display
    my stepfather liberated
    from the mall dumpster behind work

    He peeled off the gold letters meticulously
    but you could still make out
    F-L-O-R-S-H-E-I-M
    behind the TV
    (that required a hard smack on top
    and two punches to the side to turn on)

    We had luxuries

    Pizza from Guisseppe’s
    every Friday night

    Membership to the neighborhood pool in the summer
    (that we got by lying about where we lived)

    An Atari
    (that was supposed to help my hand-eye coordination)

    But one luxury not allowed
    was two jars of peanut butter

    I liked crunchy
    My Stepfather only creamy

    Mom could have been the swing vote
    except
    she rarely ate

    So she went with her favorite of us

    For years
    I swallowed that bland creamy paste
    too often with mint jelly
    because he demanded lamb chops
    and there would be no grape or strawberry
    until the mint jar was finally empty

    Dorm room
    my first ode to freedom
    took the form of a huge plastic jar of Peter Pan
    (because experience taught me
    not to give a fuck what choosy moms choose)
    EXTRA CRUNCHY

    I ate it with a spoon
    until I felt sick

    This was LIFE
    MY life
    with texture

    Now 43
    I still love the taste
    and celebration of my life

    But I find
    I prefer my sandwiches
    less lumpy

    Little boy in the shopping cart says
    “No, Mom! I like CRUNCHY.”

    I am thankful
    we can afford two jars

  • Present Pluperfect

    The beads were pink, a perfect opalescent pink
    Plastic my adult knows, but my child believed pearls.

    So very pink, perhaps I should have chosen white
    I will never know,
    My mother’s life leeched away before I even knew her middle name
    Let alone a favorite color,
    I was six, and the Ben Franklin jewels were pink.

    I’d heard her wish for pearls after the lady with the driver came,
    It was the final fitting for her New Year’s dress,
    Mom was sitting on the stoop with Miss Darlene’s mom
    Darlene was Roxanne’s age
    And had real Barbie dolls, not the hollow plastic kind,
    They were talking about the sparkly earrings the Lady kept twisting as she eyed herself in the mirror making it hard for mum to mark the hem

    “You outdid yourself Marlene, the dress is stunning, ”
    She wiggled a hand dyed pump, “Do you Really think these are the right shoes?
    My mother’s stained fingers touched them with the reverence saved for holy things.
    “The satin is perfect.”

    The pinning and the preening done
    The woman stood and waited impatiently for the teeth to seperate
    The new zipper making a soft munching sound between the satin and the bugle beads.

    “Well I need it done tomorrow instead of Friday.’

    “Yes ma’am, ” my mother breathed, “but that will be-”

    “Not extra, I won’t pay it” And the woman wrinkled her nose and sniffed disparaging,
    “I can’t bare the smell of cabbage, how can you eat it so often.”
    The woman stood there in her bra and girdle
    Unashamedly aware of no one there.

    When she left my mom plopped on the stoop.

    “She’s quite a piece of work,” my neighbor laughed, “Wish I had just one rock half the size of those she was wearing in her ears.”

    “I don’t much like diamonds,” my mother replied, touching her hand to her neck
    As if remembering a time
    When the flowers men gave her
    Didn’t bloom blue beneath her left eye.
    “I had pearls once.”

    The beads were pink
    And 3.99 plus tax and required a sisterly co-conspirator for the ransom.
    The tag said “Santa Claus” that Christmas morning
    When I was six.