Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A wonderful compliment

I'm a poet, and I didn't even know it!

(Get it?? It's funny, cause "poet" and "know it" rhyme! See? I'll take a moment to allow the delicious cleverness of that joke to sink in...)

Ok, moving on...

I got a really nice compliment yesterday from a complete stranger, and it made my day!

Now, as background information for this story, let me just say that between the ages of 6 and 16, I was one of those insufferable people who thought that they could write poetry and who wrote a ton of poems and then forced others to read them. I filled notebooks with bad poems. I was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of my own poetic genius. I was made no less insufferable by the fact that in second or third grade, I won second place for my age group in a city-wide poetry contest and was invited to read my poem aloud to a large crowd which was composed entirely of parents of other children who were also reading their poems (and my parents, of course). My name and picture were in the local paper. It went straight to my head. What I obviously failed to realize was that writing better poems than other seven and eight year olds isn't exactly the same thing as, say, being Robert Frost. So, I thought I was a poet. A great poet. A fantastic poet. And then I turned 17 and took AP English in high school and read poetry by people who actually could write poetry, and I suddenly realized that my poetry was pathetic in comparison, and I burned it all. (No, just kidding, I save everything. It's probably in a box somewhere.) Anyway, after my sudden and painful realization that my poetry was mediocre, I stopped writing poetry completely, until I needed another creative writing class for my writing degree, so I signed up for a poetry class during my senior year of college.

I wrote all the poems that were assigned to me, and not a single one more. As my final project, I assembled the requisite chapbook of a dozen or so poems, and the first poem was about how I couldn't write poetry. I printed the required number of copies of the chapbook, got reasonably good reviews from my classmates and my professor, and then didn't write another poem again. In fact, the dedication page of my chapbook said "This book is dedicated to my boyfriend Mr. Darling, my poetry classmates, and Dr. (Name of Poetry Professor), who will be the only ones who will ever read it." (Quick side note - I dedicated a poetry book to Mr. Darling, and then he ended up marrying me! Coincidence? Yeah, probably. He's not really into poetry.)

This all took place four years ago, and I haven't thought about it since. Except for yesterday, when I got a Facebook message from someone I didn't know, and the subject line of the message was the title of my poetry chapbook from senior year. Apparently, this guy is now a senior at the same college I attended, and he was in my old professor's office discussing poetry, and my old professor was showing him various chapbooks from former students, and when he read mine, he liked it so much he asked if he could keep a copy of it. So he sent me a message to let me know that he loved my poetry, that contrary to what I'd assumed in my dedication, other people were actually reading and enjoying my chapbook, and he actually thanked me for writing my poems. (He also congratulated me on marrying the guy to whom I had dedicated my chapbook. Haha!)

So, in summation, I'm still no Robert Frost (and I promise that I will not convert this to a poetry blog and subject you all to mediocre poetry from now on), but I thought it was a really nice compliment, and it made me feel good about myself and about my writing, so I felt like sharing. Also, I think I'm going to start following this guy's example and go out of my way to compliment people on things I really like, even if I don't know them.

15 comments:

Dr Zibbs said...

That's really cool
about the guy from Facebook
I hope he's not lying
in attempt to get some nook*

*short for nookie.

Cora said...

Aww, that's fantastic! I'd be all jazzed up too. :-)

Bon Don said...

Aww that was a wonderful compliment! and good for you on wanting to give people compliments even if you don't even know them.

In fact I have my daughters give out at least three compliments to strangers a day and at least five to people they do know.

LYDIA said...

Can't say I am surprised Tova, I think you write really well. :) Great story - it's always nice to hear a compliment from a stranger who will probably not get any nook*

Poetica said...

That's so cool how he contacted you.
You should share some of the poems on your blog!

kim said...

Stumbled on your blog! So cute...I also, am a former "Surely I Am Awesome" poet.

Then I found out poems don't necessarily rhyme. So long Pulitzer.

Elaine said...

Hey great post. Thanks for stopping by my blog today and good luck....

Fancy Schmancy said...

I thought I was so good, I "won" something on poetry.com. And all I had to do was pay $60 to see it in a coffee table book! Talk about a bubble burster...

Megan said...

That's awesome that the guy contacted you to compliment you. =)

Marie said...

I can so relate to this post- (except the somebody revisiting and loving my poetry part.) I hope you read my recent post "Reconsidering Poetry." You will see how much I relate to that really pretentious stage of thinking you are the next Robert Frost.

Anyhow, that is about as great a compliment as one could ask for. Congratulations!

Piece o' Coconut Cake said...

You're on! Or I'll let you pick something out from the $1 aisle at Target ;-)

Pleasant Drive said...

What a nice guy! And, he did set a good example for the rest of us, didn't he? It's important to let people know when they do something well.

ÄsK AliCë said...

Aw that's so sweet! I had the pretentious poetry phase too. I got over it pretty quickly ;>

That's great that the Prof still shows your book though, awesome!

Braja said...

I love your blog and am wading thru it, but more than anything I'm totally impressed you kick-assed your mother in law and branched out anonymously. All power to you. Come over and see me and mine...

Former Fat Chick said...

hello...STALKER ALERT!

In my opinion, we don't devote nearly enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks. ~ Calvin & Hobbes