“It was at that age poetry came in search of me.” -Pablo Neruda

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I can’t say when poetry and I first really met. I remember being five year old and writing songs in my garage in my head. My most famous was “Cigarettes on my Honeymoon.” Ironically, I’ve never been a smoker, but to this day many of the characters that live in my poems do, so I guess not much has changed. In reality, I owe most of my love of poetry and words in general to music. It was through records that my first ‘poems,’ emerged. The realization I could not sing, we did not have money for the instruments I wanted to play, and a very distinct love of listening to my parent’s old records, which had been discarded to our basement by this time, combined with some teen angst brought me to a typewriter down the basement with those records. Few people knew what I was doing (trying to be Paul Simon or Bruce Springsteen) without the music), I spent hours producing pages and pages of writing. It remained this relatively private affair (with the exception of a few teachers catching wind of a piece of work here or there throughout late high school and early college) and encouraging me to pursue a career in writing. It wasn’t until my junior year of college that I fully let the world see what years in the basement, in private with those records produced. In a creative writing workshop, I decided to workshop my first ‘poem’ to the class on my birthday. I’m not sure what part of me felt this was a good idea, given I spent the night before celebrating with Long Island Iced Tea’s post midnight. I remember walking to class and the professor, who I adored (more on her later), pulling me aside before class. I assumed she was going to tell me how terrible the piece was and ask me to consider dropping the course. Instead, she brought me and asked me, “Who taught you to write?” I wasn’t sure of the intent of the question, so I answered the best I could, “I did.” In my head, I wanted to list musical artists from my parents record collection to my expanding musical collection. I’ll never forget the way she stared at me. “So you’ve never had any training?” I shrugged and said, ‘no.’ I will spare you the details of our conversation. I will say it included her requesting more of my work, her asking me to work with her individually to grow myself into a writer. I did do that. There came MFA scholarships temporarily abandoned for a few years of national service, which eventually turned into a career of mental health counseling/social work. Writing became something very private for me again. It did not stop, however, and from that day forward I did consider myself a writer. I dabbled in other genres, but it has been the poem that I’ve always come back to, despite it being probably one of people’s least favorite types of literature to read. For me, a natural storyteller, probably with a good amount of non-fiction material to write several books, the poem encapsulates everything I love about writing. The concise choosing of every word, the ability to give the reader this glimpse, a snapshot, into a feeling, a character, a sensation felt. There is no other form of writing to me that goes right to the moment, quite like the poem. The poem is all about a feeling. Life would teach me poetry comes from the highest of highs to the deepest of sorrows. I’ve tried to leave it several times, only to realize it is (as a very emotional/introverted person, how I speak. It is my most natural language. In my greatest times of joy and my greatest despair, I find myself needing to escape and speak through the poems. I write constantly. I have since I was fifteen or sixteen. The poems I will bring to this page are my story, my bearing witness to the world, my sensing, and feeling. They are my chance to give voice to those who I’ve felt maybe were voiceless. They are my greatest joy and my deepest sorrows. They’re my travelogue of sorts. There are those who take pictures and those paint, my poems are my pictures of where I’ve been and where I’m going. They are my paintings, sometimes self-portraits and sometimes abstract. Today, for the first time, I’ve decided it’s time to let people into the basement, to hear the feeling, the dialogue in my head, to see what has been recorded from those days when I sat in my parent’s basement in WI with numb fingers from typing (it was very cold) to venturing out into the world and seeing the world physically and emotionally, to sitting in rooms day after day as a therapist hearing the thoughts, stories, and most personal accounts of other’s lives. That being said, any poem that sounds like ‘your life,’ is purely coincidental. I don’t write anything factual about my work, except to possibly fictionalize a response to something that strongly personally resonated with me. So… in the spirit of not being too long winded, I invite you into this gallery of thought, feeling, storytelling,… Hopefully, poetry might find you. If not, enjoy what you want, trash the rest. Feedback is highly encouraged. I hope you’ll find what I’ve found, which is the world is full of poetry from the chords of the colors of a great sunset, to the way someone touches fruit at a supermarket, to the wink of starlight, we essentially live in one big poem. I invite you into how I experience that world and hope you will enjoy it. -L

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