On Writing Poetry… with a nod to Miss Edwards (re-posted from 2015.)

I have always been a writer.  At age twelve, more or less, I wrote a novel.  Although I don’t recall any details of the plot, or characterization,  I do remember a name…Joyce Reena Phane.   That was to be my pen name, I believe.  To me that name was beautiful, and the very essence of sophistication.   I was quite proud of my novel, such as it was, and when my aunt asked to read it I was delighted.   Aunt Jada was a writer herself, and was working on a novel dealing with a group of Kent State students during the Vietnam War.  She loved my novel, and was impressed enough to talk with her sister, my mother, about it.

That was the end of that.    My mother was a very practical and down-to-earth woman, whose no-nonsense beliefs had no room for frivolous or non-productive pursuits.   As far as she was concerned no one made a living from writing books, especially if they had no college education–and the prospect of ME going to college was out of the question.   Besides, my writing was childish, the plot far-fetched and the characters unrealistic…and the pen name I had chosen so carefully was silly and unlike a name any real person would have.  The early….and only…draft of that novel consisted of several notebook paper pages, which no longer exist.

I did continue my creative writing, with encouragement from my seventh grade English teacher, Mr. Wilkinson.

I have some early poetry written in a brown notebook, one of those old dime-store notebooks  that were cheap and plentiful.  In addition to my own works of poetry, I have in those pages the complete Edgar Allen Poe, The Raven, copied in my neat and even cursive handwriting.   Also much of Macbeth, Shakespeare’s masterpiece which had also been immortalized as our high school play.  I was so enamored of that classic that I saw fit to enter much of the original play into my notebook.  There is also some poetry that I can still recite in part this many decades later…I was quite proud of my poems which also immortalized some of my early loves in my handwriting.   I used a fountain pen with real ink, and when I made an error I ripped out the notebook page entirely and started over.  I still think that the handwriting on those pages are perhaps the most endearing aspect of the whole brown notebook.  I wish I still loved my handwriting as well as I did then.

As for Shakespeare, my exposure to his works were in my Junior or Senior year of high school, when the truly marvelous reading by our English Literature teacher–who was also the school principal–sends shivers up my spine to this day.  I always stayed on Miss Edwards’ good side.  She was a small woman in stature, tough as any marine sergeant, and did not need any police personnel to maintain order over her classes–or her school.  One of the things I liked about Miss Edwards is that she liked my writing…she is definitely one of my mentors who had a positive effect on my life.

Ah well– I will never make it as a poet, but as long as I like my poetry and other bloggers occasionally say something nice about it as well–it is worth the oft-times lame verse that escapes my fountain pen….er, keyboard.

17 thoughts on “On Writing Poetry… with a nod to Miss Edwards (re-posted from 2015.)

  1. I had a very similar notebook, with snippets of writing that struck me as worthy or deeply meaningful, interwoven with bits I tried to write myself; why don’t we still keep such interesting things? (I may go back and try it again!)

    Something here made me think of Dawn Powell’s autobiographical novel, My Home is Far Away. She writes about her stepmother burning her notebooks. Your mom was nowhere near that harsh, but I think it’s important that you (like Powell) kept on writing!


    1. how sad about Dawn Powell’s notebooks being destroyed. Actually it was just that my mom was of the mind that no one (least of all me) could make a living writing…but when she died there on her dresser their in Florida was a stack of copies she had made of my newspaper articles when she visited me. My sister said she couldn’t have been prouder…but I sure could have used that pride when I was a weird little kid. I did support my five kids on my newspaper writer salary…still poverty level pay, but at least they didn’t starve. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. yes. I brag about my kids shamelessly. My mother always felt inferior. Her sisters married navy pilots and professional bigshots; my Dad was an alcoholic…he died at 39, when I was 15. But I’m not going there now.


    2. I still keep notebooks. I write most of my poems first draft in notebooks, and a lot of other writing. However I finally am able to compose on the keyboard now. I still have cryptic little notes here and there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad you continued to write, even if you didn’t get a lot of encouragement from home. It sounds as if Miss Edwards made Shakespeare come alive. Poor Mr. S. was dead to me. We read and analysed one play a year, always reading one act or part of an act at a time. If they had only set me free to read the whole thing at once! My husband saw Shakespeare in the Park (Central Park), and he was captivated.


    1. My husband and I used to go to the Oberlin College opera productions, and saw Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and other Shakespeare. We had season tickets for several years, not only Shakespeare, but also a major opera a year, and assorted plays. It was fun, we both enjoyed it very much.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Loved reading your writing journey. Thanks to the mentors along the way. I’m sure I have been guilty of squashing high ideals in my sons but they are wonderful in spite of me! Through all my “busy” years I’m afraid I didn’t leave enough room for fantasy. Of course, I’m busy now but it is often with fantasy! And I’ve found a wonderful audience with blogging friends and great grandchildren. Indeed, they are similar! And I love Joyce Reena Phane!


    1. thank you, but it is sort of high-brow sounding, and doesn’t really suit me. I have been very fortunate in having support for my writing, and my Mom became one of my greatest supporters. I guess I proved that it is indeed possible to make a living writing.


  4. Keep writing….An incomparable outlet and creative process……You clearly have some wonderful memories of your ‘writing life’….Enjoyed reading about your early adventures into the field of writing. Hugs!


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