Sixteen years ago, I was in my Dad’s basement, a thirteen-year old social outcast whose predominant life experiences revolved around a woman who wasn’t cut out for parenthood. I sought solace from school and home in an old cassette player, and learned the lyrics to every song I could compel myself to remember.
It was around this time I started writing poetry. Because I wasn’t musically inclined and couldn’t sing- despite my feeble attempts- I turned my affection to the words; how they were shaped and the ways they were stressed in each line. I was only permitted to listen to music approved by my father, and much of what I liked was not allowed past the front door. This strict filtering of my musical tastes sucked at the time, but two decades later, the pop sensibilities of those filters have stuck with me.
Along the way, I would be mentored in punk, metal, hip-hop and rock, but in those early days, one of my biggest influences (and the biggest name on my father’s music hit list) was Eminem, who taught me to break down sounds and pair words that would not conventionally rhyme.
While most page-based poets would likely cite other poets as influences, music has been the single biggest contributor to my poetic development. But again, I have to stress I was not gifted musically, and most of my early works consisted of re-writing song lyrics in my head.
You can call this plagiarism, but I consider it my Point A.
I could name you a hundred bands that have influenced me, and why. I can trace my poetic heritage from rock mainstays like Pink Floyd and Fleetwood Mac to a newer generation of music from emo bands and metal acts, to the indie scene and classic rock radio stations. Punk gave birth to my activism while rap spawned the hard line breaks you see in my poetry today.
I do not claim to be the most skilled of writers, or even poets. All I ever tried to do was stay true to myself, avoid cliches and create something relateable. I have received as much criticism as I have praise in my creative lifetime, and have done my best to welcome both equally. We all hope to be remembered for our endeavours, and though time is a fickle mistress, I hope it will remember me kindly.
The last year was without a doubt the darkest of my life, and my body of work ultimately reflected that. But it was those poems that saved me, and tipped my hand from performing a darker act than writing. It was sharing it with my readers, who have sustained it, that made writing it a bit easier. It was the hours spent hunched over a keyboard, playing Tetris with turns of phrase and exploring maps underneath the white space, that I credit with saving my life.
Poetry is the music in my head, and pages are an instrument- or an orchestra- I could learn. This site has been my opera house; however small or deep my overall evolution as a composer ends up being is not for me to decide, so I have tried to worry less about it.
I come here to hear the echoes, not figure out the endgame.
I have touched on so many subjects over the last sixteen years. Things close and faraway. People I miss and others who don’t actually exist outside my head. Ideas big and small. Of life coming together and falling apart, steps forward and falls backward. There are days I think I have nothing left to say and nights I am bursting at the seams with opinions.
I am beyond the days of thinking this career will ever be financially viable, but it has transcended being a job. It is no longer my life’s work, but a member of my family. Like with my young daughter, I am raising something, nurturing it, teaching it how to survive on its own when I have departed this world. It will be a soundtrack of the life I have lived, the mistakes I have made, and whatever successes I happened to find.
It may be trite and, colloquially speaking, unfit to stand with the classicists. So be it, then. It will stand against them.
This is music to me.