I soon realized that those who were leading these sessions were primarily advocating writing in prose form. Even so, I decided to stay with it … it was, after all, advertised as a “poetry” workshop.
During the course of that workshop, each of us was invited to read our poems at the podium. After we’d read our works, these professionals would then discuss and appraise our poems.
So, I selected a few of my favorite pieces to read aloud. Each day we listened, each day we read, and each day the teachers did their best to evaluate what we had presented right then and there.
As the days went on the instructors became perplexed by my style, noting that my poems began at one point, ascended in an arc, and ended perfectly. “That’s really hard to do,” they responded.
The final poem that I read to the room was “My Heart Upon A Loom.” At the far end of that room sat my family. I approached the dais, read the poem, and then quietly retook my seat
Then, they began their assessment of my poem by asserting and repeatedly insisting that one simply cannot use the word love over and over in a single poem. Meanwhile, my family sat there, aghast.
Because, nowhere, in that love poem, had I once used the word love! It simply wasn't there! I suddenly realized that I had managed to convey the essence, the ambiance of “love” clandestinely.
I listened to the teachers and nodded politely while my family snickered as quietly as they could manage. I was ecstatic with their inadvertent validation, but I said nothing in response to them.
To quote Napoleon Bonaparte, "Never interrupt your enemy when he's making a mistake."
No, they were not my enemy, per se, but they were so locked into prose that they couldn’t really evaluate what I had done, poetically. I thanked them and excited that room a very, very happy poet.
Here is that final poem which I read aloud:
My Heart Upon A Loom
My heart upon a loom,
Each woven cord revealing
An incidence of you;
It's you who do the weaving.
Though guarded I this heart
'Neath coolest countenance
You took a gentler part
Than I could guard against.
My heart upon a loom
Which many years lay barren
And I seemed long unmoved;
Thus, uncompleted therein.
You took a crimson strand
Against my warning eye.
With patient, agile hand
You wove away the lie.
My heart upon a loom.
Now row by row a passion
By which I am consumed
Within this frame is fashioned.
A woolen cloak we weave
To keep us from such cold
As loneliness can breed
When maids and men grow old.