Skip to main content

Why I Write Poetry: Jane Shlensky

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 (details on how to contribute below). Thank you!

Today’s “Why I Write Poetry” post comes from Jane Shlensky, who says, "Each poem is a journey with many roads, a way of remembering, a way of being in the world."

Jane Shlensky, a teacher and musician, holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. She and long-time friend Nancy Posey coordinated the Fall Face-to-Face poetry event in Hickory (NC) and were co-laureates for April PAD 2016. Jane's recent poetry can be found in Writer's Digest, Pinesong, KAKALAK, Southern Poetry Anthology: NC, and others. Her poems are Pushcart nominated and her short stories recognized as finalists in fiction contests. Her poetry chapbook, Barefoot on Gravel (2016), is available from Finishing Line Press.

*****

Master Poetic Forms!

Image placeholder title

Learn how to write sestina, shadorma, haiku, monotetra, golden shovel, and more with The Writer’s Digest Guide to Poetic Forms, by Robert Lee Brewer.

This e-book covers more than 40 poetic forms and shares examples to illustrate how each form works. Discover a new universe of poetic possibilities and apply it to your poetry today!

Click to continue.

*****

Why I Write Poetry: Jane Shlensky

 Jane Shlensky

Jane Shlensky

Growing up on a farm meant boringly redundant labor from which we sought distractions. Thankfully, on a farm, there are also wonders to observe and process. Singing our way across a field or milking cows, we made up verses of songs when we didn't know the words; we watched our mama write poems and read them as if they tasted just right on her tongue. I wanted that too. I think where we call home forms our verse. I learned to write because it kept my brain alive, allowing me to vent and create simultaneously.

*****

Everybody needs a way to release psychic steam. Writing poetry was a primary pressure valve for me—that and playing piano. Once I learned I could play a poem, I tinkered with composing songs and still do. Writing formed verse helps in songwriting, which is why I so enjoy Robert's form challenges. Meter and rhyme, various forms, are my version of higher mathematics.

Beyond the release of stress, poetry helped me learn like a good teacher, a good guide to many angles of vision and ways of being. Writing poetry is a good friend—peaceful and funny, intelligent and sensitive, humorous and kind, honest and darned good company for a shy girl—what you'd expect a best friend to be. I learned by the time I was eight and squirreling away my own poems that fifteen minutes turned to hours when I was writing, buffing, and enjoying the visit, so to speak.

*****

 Jane Shlensky

Jane Shlensky

I'm a broken vessel, struggling with depression, but sometimes the right words help. I've let writing poetry serve lots of purposes, as my staircase and safety net, my pruning hook and soothing balm. It is my chew toy, my punching bag, my pet thought, my seed pod, both marching tune and lullaby. For 40 years, as a teacher of writing, I wrote because I didn't want to be a hypocrite to my students. Some days I wrote almost in defiance, because, damn it, I deserved a few minutes to ground myself and make my own meaning before I tried to help teenagers make theirs.

But mostly, I write poetry because I don't know how not to. Without it, I have not been as happy, thoughtful, or loving. While I enjoy writing fiction, composing poetry taps into a kinder, wiser, perhaps more hopeful me. Often my narrative poems help me articulate a feeling or a place I will rewrite in short stories, or short fiction becomes a poem.

*****

Each poem is a journey with many roads, a way of remembering, a way of being in the world. I write poetry because I want to be a good human, true and worthy, and poetry rejects my best lies. Like that good friend, a false line reaches off the page and slaps me, teaching me what resonates as Truth and how to be better than I am. We all need a friend like that.

*****

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.

*****

Find more poetic posts here:

Save

Sea Bound

Sea Bound

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, write about someone connected to the sea.

writersMarket_wd-ad_1000x300 (1)

Get Published With the Latest Market Books Editions

Get published and find more success with your writing by using the latest editions of the Market Books, including Writer's Market, Poet's Market, Guide to Literary Agents, and more!

Michigan Quarterly Review: Market Spotlight

Michigan Quarterly Review: Market Spotlight

For this week's market spotlight, we look at Michigan Quarterly Review, the flagship literary journal of the University of Michigan.

Desperate vs. Disparate (Grammar Rules)

Desperate vs. Disparate (Grammar Rules)

This post looks at the differences between desperate and disparate with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

What Is Pastiche in Literature, and Why Is Sherlock Holmes Perfect for It?

What Is Pastiche in Literature, and Why Is Sherlock Holmes Perfect for It?

What has made Sherlock Holmes so adaptable and changeable throughout the character’s original inception? Author Timothy Miller explains.

How to Write Through Grief and Find Creativity

How to Write Through Grief and Find Creativity

When author Diana Giovinazzo found herself caught in the storm of grief, doing what she loved felt insurmountable. Here, she shares how she worked through her grief to find her creativity again.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Our Brand-New Digital Guide, 6 WDU Courses, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce our new “Get Published in 2022” digital guide, six new WDU courses, and more!

5 Tips for Keeping Your Writing Rolling

5 Tips for Keeping Your Writing Rolling

The occasional bump in the writing process is normal, but it can be difficult to work through. Here, author Genevieve Essig shares five ways to keep your writing rolling.

From Script

How to Write from a Place of Truth and Desire and Bending the Rules in Screenwriting (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, exclusive interviews with screenwriter Steven Knight (Spencer), Mike Mills (C'mon C'mon), and David Mitchell (Matrix Resurrection). Plus, how to utilize your vulnerability in your writing and different perspectives on screenwriting structure.