I’ve been taking down the decorations, putting away the garland and lights, and re-reading the cards and letters sent to us over the holidays. I hang the cards and photos on a strip of green ribbon over the doorway to the living room as part of my holiday decorations. Usually I’m so busy that I only have time to skim through the greetings when I receive them, so leisurely reading them when I take them down after the holidays has become my annual ritual. I update contact information for family and friends, and sometimes keep the family photos to insert into my address book. I love the many different creative ways people use to greet one another during the holidays. I am especially enjoying a Christmas poem sent to us by my sister-in-law, and I’m so pleased that people seem to be using poetry more and more for their everyday communications and to commemorate special occasions.
Is poetry enjoying a sort of renaissance these days? When I read work by contemporary poets I am continually awed by the beauty I find there. I also sometimes wonder why I’m attempting to write poetry when there is so much good stuff that has already been written. Do I really have anything new to say? Can I even begin to compete with all the rest of the wonderful writing that is already out there? In our competitive society where we try to get ahead by trying to outdo one another, we often apply the same model to our writing and art.
But I soon realize that is the wrong way to look at it. This isn’t a competition. I have to keep reminding myself that the beauty in writing is that each writer has his or her own unique experiences and viewpoint. You know how it is when you’re sitting around the kitchen table telling family stories, and your brother or sister, aunt, or father remember things much differently than you do? No one else will remember any moment or experience in exactly the same way that you do. That is why each person’s voice is so very important. It may or may not be a great work of literature, but no one else can tell your story.