Why I Write Poetry: Walter J. Wojtanik

A few weeks ago, I posted about “Why I Write Poetry” and encouraged others to share their thoughts, stories, and experiences for future guest posts. I’ve already received so many, and I hope they keep coming in. Thank you!

Today’s “Why I Write Poetry” post comes from Walter J. Wojtanik.

Walter J. Wojtanik has made a life of poetry without actually realizing it. Adhering to his premise that inspiration is everywhere we look, it seems those observations have lent themselves to the poetic process. Walter has published three poetry collections and various chapbooks along with the Poet Laureate designation in 2010, and is currently (finally) preparing his I Am Santa Claus collection for publication. Although he is writing in various disciplines, poetry remains his passion.

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Why I Write Poetry: Walter J. Wojtanik

Walter J. Wojtanik

As long as I can remember, I have tried to express myself in words. I suppose, it started with the stories I would contrive for my youngest sister to keep her entertained. These verbal meanderings never found their way to a page, eventually becoming a vapor of lost thoughts and imaginings. I never considered what I did as “writing.” I was a story teller.

As I got older, my stories took a more serious turn. These finally made it to page, first in my adolescent scribblings and then on the Smith-Corona typewriter my parents had gifted to me one Christmas. My initial attempts were somewhat juvenile and maudlin (for a twelve year old). These pages got filed away, never to see the light of day.

The next great thing my parents did for me came by way of another “gift.” Dad had a mild interest in music. But, for reasons that were never explained, the folks bought a Hammond console organ. It seemed like a confusing piece of furniture with dual keyboards, pedals on the floor, and these sliding drawbars that none of us knew what their function was. My five siblings had no interaction with this monstrosity. I had the fortune of being “charged” with the chore of dusting the beast. Once inadvertently powering the organ up, I ran my hand across the keys and I found myself mesmerized in the fact that I could teach myself to play and I was able to make ”music.”

As my musical acumen grew, I was able to compose pieces that were pleasing to the ear and with the addition of lyrics, I found a new form of expression. At no time did I consider myself a writer, or musician and certainly not a lyricist. At age 13, I barely thought myself a teenager. But I found myself fussing with my words, trying to find the right expressions to speak my soul. The words eventually became more important than the music.

It became a “chicken or egg” thing. Sometimes writing the melody first and penning lyrics to fit the meter and tone. Sometimes I wrote words that just begged for musical accompaniment. Those started to pile up. Then the realization hit me. These weren’t just lyrics, they were poetry. But as always, I never called myself “poet.” But for sure, poetry quickly became “my thing!”

40 years of written words finally found the light of day. Seeing a notice for the 2009 April Poem-a-Day Challenge here at Poetic Asides gave me the forum to write my poetry with great regularity (sometimes to manic extremes.) I found myself contributing to various poetry sites, but always found a home with Robert Lee Brewer’s crew. Being selected by Robert as the Poet Laureate in 2010 was my validation. It became sort of my twelve-step program. P.A. became my A.A. It allowed me to accept my fate and admit to my addiction. Hello, I am Walt and I am a poet!

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If you’d like to share why you write poetry, please send an e-mail to robert.brewer@fwmedia.com with a 300-500 word personal essay that shares why you write poetry. It can be serious, happy, sad, silly–whatever poetry means for you. And be sure to include your preferred bio (50-100 words) and head shot. If I like what you send, I’ll include it as a future guest post on the blog.

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26 thoughts on “Why I Write Poetry: Walter J. Wojtanik

  1. PressOn

    Walt, for me the essence of your poetry has always been enthusiasm. It appears that’s the essence of your life, too. Thanks for all your wonderful work.

    Peace,
    Bill Preston

  2. Arash

    Robert, good idea these guest posts, I think it helps us learn more about each other, and can makes this place feel more like a community.

    Walt, didn’t know we had a multi-talented spirit among us, a poet and a musician! It’s nice that you got started at such early age. The piece here was well-written and even had a kind of musicality to it sometimes—I quite enjoyed the line, “I had the fortune of being “charged” with the chore of dusting the beast.”

    I also identify with that difficulty of self-identifying as a poet, and the preoccupation with poetry that can verge on addiction. This writing poetry is a strange business but the good thing is here we can all be insane together. 😉

    1. Walter J Wojtanik

      Thanks Arash. Around here, we refer to it as “Jack-of-all-trades) (master of none). But that doesn’t mean we ever stop learning. if the truth be told, i am poet, musician, composer, playwright, carpenter, painter… and I always return to the words to identify my talent. You notice poet and carpenter in the mix. I dabble equally in woods as well as words. Glad we can return the community to this place. As as far as being “insane together”… there is always strength in numbers! 😉

      1. Arash

        Wow, that’s even more impressive! It’s nice you have all these ways to express yourself, I wonder if they can complement each other or one art providing raw material for another. Creativity knows no bounds.

    1. Walter J Wojtanik

      Being a student of the poetic process, I need to get it as right (or write) as I can. And I draw my strength from like minded souls such as yourself, Rosemary. Through our collaborations and commitments to these words, we are all kindred spirits in the word. Glad you mentioned “off and on” since my poetry can be “off” more than not. Thanks for your continued support!

    1. Walter J Wojtanik

      As I had said, Karen. I can’t stop if I wanted to. And God knows, I’ve tried. But I always end up back here at PA. It’s like my creative spa. I keep coming back to heal my soul! Thanks for reading and glad you enjoy them.

    1. Walter J Wojtanik

      Primed the pump… started the fire… inspired those who inspire me? The stories were wild ramblings that I never committed to page, But i could imagine them even more refined and developed if i had. Thanks AsWritten.

  3. Nurit Israeli

    Hello, Walt, you ARE a poet, and one whose poetry I love. Thank you for sharing the history of the evolution of your poetic soul. Your poetic collection “Dead Poet… Once Removed” is one of my favorites. So full of Life…

    1. Walter J Wojtanik

      My dear friend, it is an honor to share my words with you along with the poets here. There is a mutual admiration for your words and works. I’ll remain writing as long as I remain so full of life, Nurit. And when I’m no longer full of it, I’ll hope my words will live on! Thank you!

  4. tripoet

    Dear Walt,

    Everything you write seems to have been brushed up against magic, including this piece. Your work is such an important part of all the challenges where your passion for music and poetry is always evident.
    ~~~Annie~~~

    1. Walter J Wojtanik

      Thank you very much, Annie! The magic lies within the inspirations we find in living life. You have it a bit backward, though. All the challenges are important parts of my passion and poetry. You all teach me so much!

  5. bryanpitchford

    Walt, your last line resonated the most with me. I wrote poetry in High School and took a Verse Writing course in college as one of my electives. I haven’t taken poetry seriously until the past two or three years. It took me a long time to admit I am a poet and even longer still to admit it in public. Thank you for your piece!

    1. Walter J Wojtanik

      Bryan, it took me thirty-five years to take my poetry “seriously”. But never myself. I am a reflection of all the amazing poets I read and with which I surround myself. Never deny your talents. Thank you for your kind words!

  6. Sasha A. Palmer

    “Trying to find the right expressions to speak my soul” — words are a blessing, for poets and for readers of poetry alike. Thank you for sharing, Walt, and best of luck with your new poetry collection!

    Happy 4th!

  7. Marie Elena

    Awesome! I was HOPING Walt had submitted a response to your question, Robert!
    Love that you weave music with words, and words with notes, Walt. Also glad to hear Santa will finally be recognized as the poet he is. 😉

    1. Walter J Wojtanik

      Thanks Pard! But I suppose it is more of a “How I Came to Write Poetry.” The “why” is because it gets into my system and spills out in metered verse. It’s a habit well honed. I poem because I can. Because it’s there. Because I can’t sing or dance…

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