Writer Dan: Origins

Writing has been a part of my life since 8th grade when my English teacher (Hi, Mrs. H!) told us that Eddie Veder was a poet/writer.

When she looked at me, probably during a regular scan of the class, you know, for effect, I felt like she landed on me in particular. It was as if she was telling me that I should start writing.

Immediately, I thought to myself, Wow, if cool af Eddie Veder does it then I can too!

I started my first notebook not long after. It was a pocket size, green cover, ring notebook. I hid the little thing above the ceiling tiles of my then basement bedroom (calm down, the basement had carpet and a window—I wasn’t JoJo the dog face boy whose family kept him locked up in the shame-dungeon).

At first it was a journal where I kept all of my 8th grade boy thoughts safe. Oooo I like this girl so much. Oh my god, why can’t I stop touching myself!? Stuff like that.

In my sophomore year of high school, I wrote my first poem. I had advanced English with a teacher whose student-donned nickname was “the Destroyer” and she was the only person I showed it to. She liked the poem, I think. At least, she was kind to me and enjoyed that I’d shared it with her. I liked her. She loved the word “cubby-hole.” That was also the year of 9/11, which is another story all together and one that lead to another kind of explorative, prose style writing.

From there, I haven’t stopped. I took a couple independent studies of poetry in the last years of high school and wrote a bunch more in black, blank page notebooks (because I was just a little emo).

At the beginning of college, I withdrew a bunch and was eventually booted for withdrawing so much. In the empty space I wrote a lot and read even more. Not much poetry, to be honest, but a lot of spiritual/religious things (currently on Agrippa and Dark Night of the Soul). I also randomly discovered a novel called something like “The Wind in the Forest,” which I have yet to find another copy of.

Eventually, I made my way back to school, got a degree in English, taught kindergartens the language in Germany and went to grad school to get an M.F.A. I got my master’s, with a focus in poetry, without withdrawing from more than one class (as best I can remember). And that was only because it meant driving two plus hours, both ways, to take the thing!  

I’m a couple years out of the program now and am writing and reading more than I ever have. I love it. I’ve written interesting things and really awful, no good things. I’ve read terrible books and fantastic books. And here I am, starting a blog about poetry and all of my experiences with it. My loves, my hates, my indeterminates.

I think I’m writing here and now because I want to get back to where I started with writing, back to that little green notebook where I kept all my little thoughts. Those tiny pages lead to the best times, writing and books in my life. I’d like to access that again.

Also, I just want to let loose.

Life gets raw, dirty, most times it’s just a fucking mess, and I don’t want to share only my most lucid moments. I want to share it all. A veritable “look into the life of a poet.” After an master’s in creative writing, it’s just what I need.

The “serious” writing continues.

I’ve been working on a manuscript of poems, which is more like a book length poem with visual pieces punctuated throughout. Just the other day I wrote a sort of cover letter about it for the first time while watching over sleepy-eyed preschoolers during their naptime. This thing might finally be coming together, I thought to myself. Which probably means it’s nowhere near complete.

There are a few other things I’m working on—a chapbook of centos with shitty citations (meaning, it has exact citations for the two poems found at Jet Fuel Review), a full length of poems written in arcs, or partial circles, and a thing or two else that I’ve just started.

It feels like a patience game now, which I think only comes about when you’ve been writing long enough to realize that you don’t really ever want to stop. Kicking and screaming comes to mind when I think about calling it all off. Not the Will Ferrell movie, but the act of actually kicking and screaming. Fuck my life type kicking and screaming.

The future could be bleak or bright, but the page is always there. Like Ralph Waldo Emerson said,

“The poet is never poorer for his song.”

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