journey into poetry, poetry teaching resources, writer's group resources

Journey into Poetry: Megan Willome


Thorns Poetry Writing

I could start this post talking about Mrs. Sullivan, who helped our fifth-grade class publish a book of poems called “Pegasus.” I could also talk about Mrs. Gorychka, who had us write a lot of poetry in her creative writing class that I took in 10th grade. But my journey into poetry kicked into high gear when my mom’s cancer returned in 2007.

She was supposed to have died sometime between fifth and 10th grade, but she hung on. This time she wasn’t going to pull through. So I turned to poetry. Only poetry seemed strong enough, yet it was short enough to keep me from getting bogged down. I could take a single image — a slice of apple pie, a bluebonnet — and capture a moment I didn’t want to lose. I wrote 72 poems. Actually, I wrote more than a 100, but some of them really sucked. I’ve revised the remaining ones a dozen times or more.

After my mom died, I thought I’d never write another poem. Enter Susan Wooldridge’s book Poemcrazy, which my Tuesday writers’ group took up. That book got me playing with words and experimenting again. Since then, our group has become all poetry, all the time. We’re on our fourth book now. We’re all getting better.

Only recently did I start putting poems up on my blog. It has been both scary and rewarding. The scary part is obvious. The rewarding part is that people seem to see things in my poems that I can’t — not so much hidden meaning as layers of meaning. So when I wrote a poem about laundry, and people asked if there had been a lot of tension in my home lately, well, um, yeah. They were right. I loved that poetry found things that I didn’t know were there.

So I keep hanging out here at Tweetspeak and in my poetry group. I subscribe to Every Day Poems, and I read American Life in Poetry and the Writer’s Almanac, looking for a good poem. Yours or mine. It doesn’t matter.

. . . . .


Mom and her five grandchildren made the cover
of a new cancer book: “The Smile Never Fades.”

My daughter, my nephew, and my oldest niece
smile big, hopeful smiles.

My son tries not to smile, while still looking

My 2-year-old niece, safe in my mother’s arms,
wails. She’s done being nice.

As soon as the photo shoot is over, she shrieks,
sticks her thumb in her mouth,
throws herself on the floor.

If I could, sweetheart,
I would grab my blankey,
lay myself down next to you.
You won’t have to smile anymore.
I promise.

Photo by WestPark. Creative Commons, via Flickr. Post by Megan Willome.

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Your Comments

21 Comments so far

  1. I sure do like finding you here this morning. :)

    Working my way through those 72 poems helped me know you better, Megan. I’m grateful for that.

    And this: “poetry found things that I didn’t know were there.” Yeah. That.

  2. Wow–you made it all the way through? I didn’t know that, but thank you.

    Glad to hear poetry is doing similar things for you.

  3. L. L. Barkat says:

    Poetry always does that. And sometimes I think it brings things that weren’t there, adds them in.

    Megan, a very touching piece. And I loved the simplicity of “Tantrum.” Grief has its odd simplicity, which this captures beautifully.

    Hey, I remember the laundry ;-)

  4. I love how the poetry helped you find things—and not only the poetry, but the people with enough sensitivity and awareness to help you find them. I’m often so oblivious to myself (both strengths and weaknesses) that I need other people to tell me about me.

    I loved seeing this today. Thanks.

  5. “I would grab my blankey, lay myself down next to you.”

    I think you’ve done that for me a time or two, Megan.

    “Only poetry seemed strong enough, yet it was short enough to keep me from getting bogged down.” Yes.

  6. Laura, yes, you were there for the poetry/laundry intervention! Thanks so much for the opportunity to share today.

    And thank you, Monica and Sandy. Your poetry has touched me more than once.

  7. Sally Clark says:

    I am sooooo thankful to be on this journey with you! Thanks for making me smile today.

  8. Sally, thank you, oh Fearless Poetry Leader!

  9. Mary Mustard says:

    Beautiful, Megan.
    Love the simple honesty of life’s emotions expressed so identifiably!
    Will enjoy reading more.

  10. Megan, your reason for writing poetry is my reason for writing: to capture those moments I don’t want to forget and know I will if I don’t write them down. It’s also why I started taking photographs when my twins were born. Thank you for articulating that! And for inspiring me to take some of those moments I’ve captured and try to turn them into poems.

  11. Anne Overstreet says:

    Beautiful, beautiful. And just what I needed today.

  12. Linda says:

    I have always liked poetry and always not liked it very much. It wasn’t until I gave myself permission not to try to figure out everything the poet meant and just let it mean what it wanted to mean to me that I just plain loved it.
    You write beautifully Megan, and I really do love your poems.

  13. Oh, such fearless wisdom in the heart of a two year old. Poetry… strong enough, but short… just like a two year old. =)

    There were moments when I held private, primal scream therapy sessions in my car driving back and forth from my mom’s. (they still come in handy, every now and then.)

    My heart aches for your hurt. My head loves that you found such a healthy, beautiful art to express yourself. I’m so glad I got to hear you read your laundry poem… I’ve thought of you often on laundry day since then. You are an easy soul to love, Megan.

  14. Patricia and Linda, my fellow poetry workshop friends! We all learned so much from Julia, didn’t we?

    And Anne, a real poet! Commenting! Thank you.

    Kimberlee, I look forward to seeing your poems featuring twins.

    And Mary, you are the only person here who knew my mom.

  15. Oh, Megan. So you. So perfect. So important. Yes, that’s the right word. Yes, it is. And that poem? A perfect choice. Time for me to go back through the 72. I so loved them the first time through, as I’ve told you before. When I’m done doing all this vacationing, I’ll have the space to do them justice. :>)

  16. blankies are the best.
    i love your poem.

  17. Thank you, Nancy!

    And Diana, you have walked a similar path. I’m glad you liked this poem. I just re-titled it (again, more tweaking!).

  18. laura says:

    I remember reading through those poems on a couple of my lunch hours and crying my eyes out. I’m so glad you share your poetry.

  19. Oh, Laura. You’re the second person I’ve made cry this week. Not good, not good.

  20. Jerry says:

    I have read many of your poems of your season of loss. They moved me greatly as I recently lost my mother. Peace.

  21. Thank you, Jerry. You’ve written quite a few good mom-poems yourself. Take care. It’s a hard journey, but not a bad one.

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