Why I Write Poetry: Walter J. Wojtanik

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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

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!


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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