[Side note: I am so nervous about this post.]
I was cleaning out my bedside table the other day and came across something that catapulted me straight back into my college days. It was my copy of OBU's 2004 Scriblerus, a compilation book of poetry and short stories that had been entered into our campus-wide writing competition and had won. I was an English Education major at OBU at the time, and now I look back with the fondest of memories on those days spent delving into books while sipping coffee with my friends. WHAT A LIFE! Oh wow. I had no idea just how good we had it back then. ;)
Anyway, it just so happens that I entered two poems into the competition that year, and I actually took third place with one of them. The other poem was included, with a handful of others, in the honorable mention section.
Rereading my own words right there on the pages of the book, I started to tear up a little. Sometimes, in the daily grind of wiping little bottoms and noses, preparing endless meals and sippy cups and snacks, cleaning and re-cleaning and re-cleaning my home to no avail, and being too tired at the end of the day to do any sort of cerebral reading, I forget that I used to be a writer. A reader. A studier. A literary analyzer. A contemplative thinker. A lover of Jane Austen, The Great Gatsby, Shakespeare, and Garcia Marquez. I used to hunger for books, thirst for knowledge outside of my tiny sphere of influence, and yearn for more more more reading, thinking, discussing, wondering.
And now, in this season of life, I feel like that part of me has gone into hibernation in a sense. Not for one millisecond would I trade my life now for my life back then. No way. No, sir.
However, finding my "award-winning" poem (albeit a very small reward at that) reminded me about a part of myself that I'd all but forgotten amidst gestating, breastfeeding, diaper changing, and baby schlepping. I am so proud of my little poems. I wrote those. I made them. I worked for weeks on them. I edited and re-edited them. I thought about their words, their punctuation, and even their shapes. I woke up from sleep thinking about them. I nervously carried them to the submission box. I proudly read them aloud at the awards ceremony. At a naive 20 years old, I made teeny, tiny, itty, bitty pieces of art, and someone out there noticed.
Anyway, do you want to know what I treasure most about my poems? The entries were submitted anonymously, but, after the judges chose the winners, the authors' names were revealed. After judging and awarding was over, one of my professors who was on the judging panel took the time to email me and let me know that he had voted for my poem to take first place. He went into great detail about what he respected in my writing, and I will never, never forget that email. Someone saw my art, and they liked it.
I hope you will, too.
This poem is a reflection on the extremely rigid discipline I learned throughout my years as a ballet student and performer. To me, ballet is irony at it's finest.
by Erin Kern
Head directly forward, chin parallel to the floor, brows up,
mouth smiling, teeth touching;
Shoulders pushed back, never raised, a perfectly even line
from ear to ear;
Arms lifted, taut with palms slightly curved down, fingers
Back gently arched, erect, never slumping, curving,
Stomach forever sucked in, sucked in tight, sucking,
Buttocks firmly clenched, hips in, square to audience, never
Knees poised for movement, turned out, bent slightly, at
no time locked;
Feet, toes eternally pointed, arches raised from the floor,
retain perfect turn-out;
Now, freely dance.