I always knew when I graduated from the youth slam community that my next encounter with the pen and page would be different.
Not just content-wise—sure, college brought on new experiences and adventures and outlooks, but I saw the transformation myself today. The difference is my definition of resolution.
Resolving a poem, i.e., concluding it or otherwise recognizing an overarching concept or solution to a problem, has been the hardest part of writing for me. As a teenager, I would grapple so much with the content of my poems that I almost never knew how to end them. Even if I did end them in a way that was satisfying, the conflicts of my poems were rarely resolved. Most of the time, the resolution ended up circling around accepting pain, anger, frustration, worthlessness, or whatever else I Was feeling at the time for what it was.
But then I grew up a bit. Then I started coaching a poetry slam team and found myself on the outside looking inwards at my own history and the tangible experiences of the teens on my team. That painful thing you write about, the topics you can’t dismiss or don’t want to, or that scarring family experience that you just need to put into words — when you taste adulthood, you realize that one of the most important things you must do in life is take the pain, conflicts, and obstacles— and find the beauty in them. Poets take it a step further—they write about this beauty. It’s a way of coping and a new way of sharing what you want to share without losing a bit of yourself every time you encounter the piece.
And that’s how I’ve started to look at things. All because of a few comments on some poems today. I’m not seventeen. I can’t look at everything that makes me angry or upset with pure pain. There are opportunities to make it beautiful, to find the good in myself somewhere as a result of that pain and look the problem in the eyes and believe it when I say that I’m stronger than anything it could possibly inflict on me.
Because how else could we go on?