Sunday, November 3, 2013

2013.11.03 The College Essay—and Beyond

Well, I never thought I’d be saying such a thing but in the spirit of the blossoming teenagerhood of Gillian, a seventeen year old granddaughter, plus my own memories, I’d say poetry rocks—mostly because it's not in itself an achievement but rather an inspiration.

This summer I was excited when Gillian told me she was interested in poetry. Excited might be too mild a word. How lovingly narcissistic it is to see a grandchild take a direction that feels like yours.   Grampy and I introduced her to David Whyte. We sat together on the couch and watched a TED talk by Whyte. Later in the bookstore Gillian asked if I'd heard of "this guy." It was Pablo Neruda and she bought a small book of his love poems, which she read three time over during the rest of the vacation time. I asked her if she wrote poetry herself and she said yes, but not the public kind.

I remember the non-public poetry I wrote at 17—dramatic existential blasts and blurs when life felt big and bold and intriguing and terrifying and I wanted to swallow it all whole.

Gillian has her own drama of course but I was delighted when her proud mom sent me her college essay which begins with a poem of her own, and a good one. She felt relieved it was “over with now.” I’m near-70 years older and I know it's only the beginning of her unfurling as a beautiful young woman with a blossoming gift for using bold words to tell her heart. She gave me permission to publish her work on my blog and I do so with pride and a few sweet tears......................

Caught in the in between,
Can’t decide between you and me.
If I stay,
My world washes away,
If I go,
You’ll be the first to know.
We’re like fire and ice
You’re the fire
I’m the ice;
You melt me
To where I am almost nothing,
I never let anyone in before
But you,
You melt me to the core.
I let you in,
You burnt a hole through me.
They say opposites attract,
But mother says it’s never good
To play with fire.

My love for poetry started a long time ago.  The first time I remember thinking about poets was in elementary school when my teachers would read Doctor Suess; and in middle school Edgar Allen Poe. I had always loved the fact that words can be transformed to rhyme and make a rhythm so profound that you could fall in love with just a stanza in a single poem. It was only until recently that my own inner monologue started to talk to me in different rhymes and rhythms.

Ever since I was a young girl I have been drawn to and loved music as well. Whenever I listened to music the lyrics would pull in me in leading me to write all over my desk with song lyrics and little poems made up in my head.  Over time I switched to pen and paper and now have multiple notebooks with different poems and lyrics, and they get longer and better as written products.

I like to write about love. I have read Pablo Neruda’s Love Poems about 10 times and ever since then, it’s all I want to write about.  The fact that I have never been in love may add to the fact that I love the idea of being in love. That said, maybe I have found love in Neruda’s poems. In David Whyte and Robert Frost, I have fallen in love with places and people I have never met or seen. Maybe that’s why poems sometimes seem so clichĂ© - perhaps I need a better outlook on life than that which is written in black and white.

I wanted to share this poem because I believe it is one of the best I have ever written. It came to me in about ten minutes and I didn’t have to change a thing. I have never taken a poetry class before, but I would love to. This poem and the ease with which it came to me marks a time in my life when I just simply knew I was no longer a little girl.  I realized I’m growing up and am a young woman with deep thoughts, intelligence and a creativity I’d only once imagined I possessed.

Going to college is important to me for many reasons but mostly because I know it will open my mind and heart to new ways to write and think about life and my future. I am all about opening my mind to new experiences and new beginnings, and that’s what I’m really hoping college will give me - a chance to explore. I want to find out who I am, and I think leaving home and being on my own will help me do that.

             ©Gillian B. Colbath, 2013, printed with permission.

God bless you on your way, Gillian, my chica, with life abundant and the courage to believe in yourself and the wonders of poetry.  And bless Dr. Seuss whose creative imagination did away with the abysmally boring Dick and Jane reading primers I had to learn to read by.  As one of your uncles said, you "will do wonderful things."