The trouble with writing is that sometimes what you write gets you in hot water when you choose to share it with the world.
A few years back, I had a poem published in The Rogue Voice that got one local woman so up in arms that she decided to confront me in person at the café where I was working. We went back and forth over the meaning of the poem. She was convinced that it was about willfully submitting myself to a misogynist man while I insisted that it was written about dealing with a particularly painful bout of tendonitis in my left wrist.
I was called a liar. An idiot. A wimp. A poor poor confused and misguided little girl. Actually, she shouted these epithets at me while I called 9-1-1 and tried to get the local sheriff to remove her from the premises after she refused to leave.
The sheriffs not only didn’t get my side of the story, they accepted her assertion that, as a friend of the café owner, she was entitled to stick around and berate me as long as she wanted. It was only after calling my boss and getting her to call the authorities that they came back and asked her to leave. Again, no attempt to get my side of the story. So I had these sheriffs looking at me like it was okay to call me an idiot because my poem was so disturbing to one woman, and that they were only back out of respect for the business owner.
Funny thing was, that harmless little poem wasn’t intended for publication. It was just a stream of consciousness email I had sent to the editor to let him how I was feeling about not being able to work and not being able to use my left hand for even the simplest of tasks. That it could be construed as a submissive’s cry to be dominated reminded me that all writing is subjective. The writer’s intention with her work need not apply once the reader views it through her own personal lens.
And, on the flip side, writing can also be the most rewarding experience I can fathom.
When my grandfather died two years ago, I knew that I wanted to say something thoughtful at his funeral. Lacking the knack for extemporaneous speech, I stayed up late the night before his funeral penning a poetic eulogy. I could think of no greater way to say how his life touched mine than through poetry.
With shaky hands and quivering voice, I read my poem to him beside his casket.
My family was touched, and even laughed at the intentionally funny part, and one aunt even commented: “We know who the poet is in the family.” That meant so much to me. I may not always be understood, but occasionally I am appreciated for who I am.