Late last week, I came across a mini-anthology of poetry which contains my only published poem. It’s the result of a nine-years-ago contest conducted by our local poetry group. Since it’d been some time since I’d last looked through the collection, I did so again, curious to see what names, now familiar these years later, popped out at me. The name of one local poet did catch my eye—someone whom I’ve wound up getting to know and spend time with. When I told her about finding the chapbook, and seeing her three poems in it, she commented that she had a vague recollection of those poems, and wondered how I relate, now, to my own poem from the collection. Well, I’d cringed when I reread it—I’d do it so differently, now. And, as she said about herself, “It was surely another [person] who wrote that.”
I guess it’s a good sign that something I wrote a little more than nine years ago makes me cringe. I must be getting somewhere, after all. And maybe I am maturing in my craft. Maybe I’m maturing as a person, as well.
But let’s not allow my cringing to be the final word on the matter. For one thing, knowledgeable people decided the poem was something other than cringy, for they published it. (And in fact, when our local paper ran its article about the collection, mine was one of the three or four poems mentioned by name.) I wrote the poem to the best of my abilities, then—just as I currently do, and will continue doing. Hopefully, I’ll be always improving, always seeing an increase across the years in the caliber of my writing. In a sense, I’ll forever be the same writer: writing to the best of my continually increasing ability.
Yet, I’ll also forever be another writer: changing, improving, building and developing upon what “surely another person” has done. Whatever greatness I might realize as a writer will be due to my standing on the shoulders of those other persons.