A few months 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 (details on how to contribute below). Thank you!
Today’s “Why I Write Poetry” post comes from Bruce W. Niedt, who begins, “There's nothing extraordinary about me.”
Bruce W. Niedt is a retired civil servant and New Jersey native who is now enjoying the joys of grand-parenthood. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including Rattle, Writer's Digest, Tiferet, Spitball, The Lyric, and US 1 Worksheets. He has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. His latest chapbook is Hits and Sacrifices (Finishing LIne Press).
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Why I Write Poetry: Bruce W. Niedt
There's nothing extraordinary about me. I don't write to work through some childhood trauma or a disastrous marriage; I don't have an exotic background or heritage. I grew up as a white, middle-class male in suburban New Jersey. The only thing I can honestly say that drives me is a love of words and language, and a burning desire to express myself that began at a very young age.
I was lucky to have mentors along the way to spur and encourage my creativity, like my sophomore English teacher in high school, who shared my love of Jefferson Airplane and introduced me to the works of Dylan Thomas. I enjoyed writing prose and poetry throughout high school and college, and was active in the academic literary magazines, but once I settled down to building a family and a government service career in the 1970's, my creative input dwindled dramatically, other than an occasional poem or short story.
Then in 1999, an epiphany came from the most unexpected source: an arrangement of three red tomatoes on my white kitchen counter top. I remembered how one could draw inspiration from the most mundane objects - a hallmark of one of my favorite poets, William Carlos Williams. Suddenly the floodgates opened and I began to write poetry at a feverish pace, as though to make up for those decades of lost time. Within a year I had my first real publication credit, and within two years I self-published my first chapbook. Since then I have had over a hundred poems published in various journals, plus five more chapbooks and a number of poetry awards.
So why do I write poetry? To try to make sense of my world. To share insights, impressions, and opinions with anyone who will read and listen. To maintain my sanity and relieve stress. To have the satisfaction of having built something, hopefully of value, with language, whether it's a half-decent sonnet or a well-turned metaphor. To try to say something a little differently than it may have been said before. To share joy, sorrow, anger, beauty, and a laugh or two with friends or total strangers. To be part of a larger community of others around the world with a love and a passion for, as Bill Moyers has put it, "fooling with words." To leave some kind of legacy, no matter how small, so someone somewhere might appreciate my words after I'm gone.
If you’d like to share why you write poetry, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.