ZEN-cHRISTIAN MOTT Inspires and encourages everyone to discover and free their inner-poet
If someone were to ask me why I started writing poetry, I’m not sure I’d have a clear answer for them.
I remember taking a creative writing class in 8th grade and writing poems but only referring to them as poems because that’s what I was told they were. It wasn’t until 10th grade when I was accepted into Douglas Anderson School of the Arts for creative writing that I was formally introduced to poetry... and I hated it.
At the time, fiction and short stories were where I found the most comfort because I was exploring the lives of fictional characters and not myself. It was a tough pill to swallow learning that poems weren’t just made of literary devices but also willingness, imagination, and vulnerability. At age 16, self exploration and reflection was the last thing I wanted to do. All of that resulted in my greatest obstacle: deciding what to write about.
"Poetry for me since then has been whatever I wanted it to be."
At first, my poems were stories stacked in stanzas. All about dark and twisty characters and sickly creatures. My senior year at Douglas, my poetry teacher, Tiffany Melanson, challenged me to write about myself. Like most teens in high school, my greatest source of drama or heartbreak at the time was boys and as all writers do, I wrote about it.
The “love poem” trend or as I like to put it “poems about love” stuck with me until college and then I searched for more. I found inspiration in quotes that stuck with me, songs that resonated deeply, paintings and nature. Poetry for me since then has been whatever I wanted it to be.
As people, society has taught us that we don't deserve to take up space, only to know our place and stay in it. Poetry in that sense becomes an act of rebellion in the best way."
My creative journey has been a rough one and it still requires me to be patient with myself. I look back at my portfolio from high school and can’t recognize the voice in those poems. It makes me realize how much of myself I was hiding in my work. I think that the biggest struggle with starting poetry or anything is answering the questions, as to why you’re doing it and what do you want the world to know.
Now, I’m all grown up and teach poetry to youth. I’m grateful everyday that I remained patient with myself and my craft because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be able to do what I love, help shape young minds and nurture and support their creativity. My favorite response from people these days when I tell them I'm a poet and teach poetry to youth is "that's so impressive, I could never write poetry." I could never wrap my mind around that statement because I believe that writing is accessible to anyone. The scariest part about poetry is facing your own thoughts, opinions, and feelings. It's all about how you the poet observe and exist in the world around you. For most people, it's big life stuff. Who has time for that? A lot of people feel they don't, but I teach my students to make time for themselves and make space for their feelings and not apologize for it. As people, society has taught us that we don't deserve to take up space, only to know our place and stay in it. Poetry in that sense becomes an act of rebellion in the best way.
"I think that the biggest struggle with starting poetry or anything is answering the questions: why you're doing it and what do you want the world to know."
If you believe you can’t write a poem, I challenge you to try before you say no to a part of yourself that you’ve never seen.
My advice for getting started:
Start small and educate yourself on the art form
Take time to research poetic techniques to give yourself a place to start before writing.
If you know what a metaphor is and how it functions, you can try creating some of your own and see where that takes you.
Find poetry that resonates with you and read it
The world is filled with lifetime's worth of poems by people of all backgrounds, ages, and cultures. If you read something you don’t like, keep searching until you find something you do!
The main thing to remember is to avoid setting unreasonable expectations for yourself. The creative process, no matter the medium, should be free flowing. If you write something you don’t like, scrap it and try again. Poetry is not black and white. There isn’t a right and wrong or good or bad poem, just whatever you create.
Being vulnerable requires not shaming what comes out of you, only welcoming it with kindness and love. Poetry has done a lot for my students and me as a person and I think everyone should give themselves the opportunity to experience that kind of joy.
I CHALLENGE anyone doubting their ability to write poetry by saying they aren't creative, lyrical, or have nothing to say TO do it anyway.
ZenChristian Mott is a fiction writer turned poet, new author, teaching artist, youth slam coach, and overall a storyteller residing in Tampa, Florida. A writer since childhood, her work has slowly transformed into a world immersed in metaphor, self-discovery, and self reflection. She received a BA in creative writing and psychology from the University of South Florida and went on to compete in regional and national slam team competitions as well as became the Workshop Director for Heard Em Say Youth Arts Collective. In 2018, she self-published her first poetry book 'The Burned House Resurrects, available for purchase on Amazon.com. Her work has appeared in the USF Thread and the IO Literary Journal. (Pronouns: She, Her)
For more about ZenChristian Mott: www.zenchristianmott.com
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