The Digital Home of Stu Franks

Can I Call Myself a Poet?

“A pencil on top of an open notebook” by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash

With National Poetry Month arriving in the US and the words of many pouring emotion into pages across the globe every day, I find myself looking in the mirror and asking — am I a poet?

By defintion (according to the Oxford Dictionary) a poet is simply “a person who writes poems” with a poem being “a piece of writing in which the expression of feelings and ideas is given intensity by particular attention to diction”.

I’ve written more than a handful of poems over the last 10 years. Scattered across notepads and various online places are one-liners, tidbits and poems that have come to mind, occasionally at the most inopportune of times (bumpy car rides creating mazes of ink rather than legible thoughts). These writings tend to come at emotional times and entail myself trying to clarify and explore my feelings. Rhythm and rhyme are considered, word choice is adapted and a piece is completed. By definition that’s a poem which would make me a poet yet — am I a poet?

If a poem is written on a page and no-one is around to read it, does it express feeling?

Have other people read my poems? Has a poem of mine ever been published by a journal? Have I studied English literature? Do I know what a pentameter is?

The answer, wholly, is no. To which calling myself a poet conjures words like fraud, imposter and obnoxious. I would never dream of comparing myself to the likes of Oscar Wilde or Edgar Allan Poe unless it is to say that I am no more than a spark is to the Sun.I would never claim depth to my words surpassing that of my own human emotion. I have always written for myself as a remedy to thought, a release of feeling, a settling of doubts. Despite that I still ask — can I call myself a poet?

To those who study literature — can I call myself a poet?
To those in poetry circles I fear to attend — can I call myself a poet?
To the cultured individuals with the publications, the following and the experience — can I call myself a poet?

Does a bird with wings need to reach the sky?
Or just itself want to fly? As the peacock that glides so low to the ground,
With colours unique does astound,
Unlike cousin crane, soaring with speed and height,
Prosperous journey, a grand sight,

So judge we not the peacock, crane or crow,
For where they are or choose to go,
Instead let us highlight the good that they show,
And come together for all we know.

Whether a poet or not I’ll continue to write, support and discuss poetry with all in whatever capacity I can and I hope you do too.

Happy National Poetry Month.