Long ago and far away, when I was a senior in high school, I had a giant crush on a girl, Ann, who was the editor-in-chief of our school’s quarterly literary magazine, The Quill. Each issue contained about 30 student-written poems and short fiction as well as a handful of student-drawn sketches.
I was never a literary-oriented student. I could write decent essays for my various classes, as long as they were mostly reporting facts, recounting observations, and didn’t require too much imagination or creativity.
When it came to poetry, however, I was not a fan. Poetry hurt my head. Of course, I had no choice but to read poetry if I wanted to pass Honors English Lit. I had to read a bunch of poems by poets such as W.H. Auden, E.E. Cummings, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Jack Frost — oh wait, that’s Robert Frost — and myriad other poets whose names I have long since forgotten.
I recall sitting in English class when the teacher would ask, “Who can tell us what the poet was saying?” I would try to will myself into invisibility, hoping the teacher wouldn’t see me. It never worked, though. I would inevitably be called upon to offer my interpretation of what this poem or that one meant.
What I wanted to say when ask to explain what the poet was saying was, “How the hell should I know?”
Instead, I would go into word salad mode, hoping that, when strung together, my response would sound insightful. After I finished my haphazardly crafted, totally meaningless response, the teacher would often stare at me for a few seconds and then point to another student. “Elizabeth, what do you think the poet meant?” Of course, Elizabeth always nailed it. What a little bitch.
But I digress. In order to spend more time with Ann, I volunteered to work on the staff of The Quill. I was the only boy on the magazine’s staff, something my beloved Ann appreciated. At first, anyway.
But as the school year progressed, Ann began to see through my act. When she asked for my thoughts on poems students had submitted for inclusion in upcoming issues of the literary magazine, she realized that I had no thoughts at all.
Ann was quite perceptive. One day she asked me directly, “Do you even like poetry?”
I couldn’t pretend anymore, even though I knew my confession might end any chance of dating Ann. “Poetry is too much work,” I blurted out. “You have to try to cut through all that symbolism, the flowery language, and all the metaphors and similes. You have to dig deep into the lines of the poetry to get to the underlying meaning, to try to figure out what the fuck the poet was attempting to say. Why can’t the poet just lay it out, plain and simple and without all that ambiguity?”
Furious, Ann fired me from the staff of The Quill. I was crushed by my crush.
And to this day, I am not a fan of poetry.
Today’s Daily Prompt word is quill. Thanks, WordPress, for churning up this painful memory.