Poetry Mondays (A Free Virtual Cult)
Updated: Aug 24, 2020
I’ve been writing poetry since seventh grade English class, when our teacher assigned it as a unit. I recall, at her announcement, the audible despair in the room, but not from me. My enthusiasm radiated for miles.
To many people, poetry is a daunting task, but I think that’s because they get stuck on one particular aspect — being alone. People fear being alone, especially with nothing but the great chasm of their own thoughts, living like the monsters under the bed of their conscious mind. While I personally enjoy the company of my words, even I can’t help feeling alone after I write. Not because I lack an audience (there are family and friends for those purposes) but rather, a community. A network of other writers who feel the same poetic pulse running rampant in their veins. In the seven years since I first wrote poetry, I've only twice met people who did the same. It was hard not to be upset by this misfortune.
Until this summer, when all of that changed. What started as a simple idea quickly grew into a force of nature. Rallying people from all over the country and world, one of my first year college professors (Greg, now known as Rev) gathered a sizable group of former students to partake in what would be called Poetry Mondays: a virtual community of diverse poets. On May 18th, I tuned into our first Zoom meeting and was met with faces upon faces of strangers: people young and old, Brazilian and Irish, from Northeastern and not. It was both terrifying and incredible. Here was a chance to meet people from all different walks of life, a group of passionate writers and thinkers unlike so many of the people I’d encountered before. I could hardly contain my enthusiasm (a noticeably distinct personality trait of mine).
It took a few weeks, but before long there was an untouchable energy in the room; a feeling of peace and community. Together, we were creating. Together, we were inspiring. And together, we were loving. It was the best kind of thing you could hope for in the dark, isolating times we were in. As I learned more about the people in the “room”, reading their words and hearing their stories, I felt a window inside me opening. It was a window that looked out onto a much bigger world, one where people didn’t always hate. They healed.
All of this remained a feat accomplished entirely through words. Yes, there were side conversations and jokes and group chats, but underneath all that was the current I described: the pulsing poetic energy running through each of us. We were lost souls wandering our way through stanzas and metaphors, hoping to be understood. And the craziest part is, we were. Finally.
The weeks passed on in between opening questions and intense editing sessions. Everyone had a chance to share personal poems and gather feedback, which had transformative effects on our work, and ourselves. I for one benefited immensely from these editing sessions. If you recall, I hadn’t acquired many writing partners over the years. The feedback loops allowed me to watch my writing grow. Not only that, but for once I had the supportive group of fellow writers I needed. We were cheering each other on one draft at a time.
Until slowly but surely, the end came. Fourteen weeks after our initial poetry Monday meeting, we logged onto our last. It was designed as an open mic night, where everyone dressed up and presented a poem of their choice (whether a new one or one we’d worked on in class). I listened in awe as my fellow classmates, now good friends, shared brilliant, humorous words. There were stories of heartbreak, of nostalgia, of nighttime, of people lost and loved. The group of us was, as I later said, something indescribable. Something divine. The creativity and love were bottomless. Where else did this exist? I could think of very few places, and that in itself was both beautiful and tragic.
When my turn came (I went last), I struggled for a bit on which poem to present. Ultimately I felt it made sense to share my smell poem, as I’d labored over it since the beginning of the class. In fact, the smell poem was more like four poems by the end, but this final one felt most true to my loss. I ended up cheating and sharing two poems, one being more personal. Speaking my truths felt like a weight lifting. It felt like sheer terror and bliss. Most of all, it felt like me. My poems are the girl I am underneath every bit of laughter and cheer I hide behind. Only certain people would understand what I mean, and those people were the ones right there in that Zoom meeting.
A screenshot from our final class Zoom meeting, all dressed up and trying not to cry!
When the end came, it was filled with many things. Love, acceptance, and the feeling of missing something right before it disappears. In the moments after we hung up, it hit me that there would no longer be a world in which I was not connected to these wonderful people, to all their triumphs and failures as writers. After all, they were people like me — the ones brave enough to look at the monsters under the bed, who would not be able to breath until they captured each one perfectly.
I want each of them to know how much they gave me.
With so much gratitude and love,