Real Talk

I was recently given the opportunity to recite one of my poems at a major event. But then, as we were going through my poetry so that we could decide on the “one” to recite, I realized that people don’t really want to talk about real issues. Every poem I had, was either too personal or too controversial.
Poems that talked of justice, exploitation, poverty and crime were grossly inappropriate. Poems criticizing government policies were worse. I could not talk of relationships or friendships or anything. While I hate to sound ungrateful, this was something I found to be very frustrating. I am grateful for the opportunity to recite my poetry, to showcase my art but I am saddened that free expression is not what people want. They wanted me to recite a patriotic poem or a poem glorifying an institution that I did not care for.
While this may sound very harsh, it’s not that I now have a personal grudge against the people who were with me choosing the poem. I am just frustrated with the system and the boundaries. Somehow, people don’t want to talk about anything that is real. Everybody likes sugar coated candy writing. Maybe reality makes them uncomfortable and maybe the platform given to me isn’t the right platform for the kind of poetry that I write.
Establishments don’t want anti-establishment poetry up on their stage, so we finally agreed on a poem I wrote some months ago when someone challenged me to write about rain. Rain is uncontroversial and rain was what they liked the best. If you’re reading this little rant of mine, you may think I’m a rebel. But the truth is far from that. Anybody who knows me will tell you that I am the furthest from a rebel. I follow rules. I don’t defy.
But why then is my poetry so “inappropriate”? Because poetry is my sanctuary, the only place where I am not afraid to be vulnerable and ridiculously honest. It has been difficult for me to speak up, both literally and not. My voice is supposedly too soft and many times, I bite my tongue as I run away from conflict. It is poetry that I found my voice and it was the beginning of me overcoming my childhood fears. Now, I speak up a little more than I used to and I am less afraid. However, my journey is far from over. I’m still learning and I know I will always have much to learn.
Life and people feed the fire within me and that is why I write…because this is my craft. This is my expression and my art. I always try to broaden my horizons in writing, but poetry is where I started and my poetry is real. It’s taken me long to learn to be real and without fear. And now, there is nothing and no one who can tell me not to be.

Photo credit: Nhoj Leunamme == Jhon Emmanuel / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

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