April 18, 2009

Gary Lehmann


When I first started writing poetry, I began writing about the most interesting subject in the world. Me. I had loves and hates, deep disgust and infinite wonder to share. It was all about me. Me, me and more me. I found that every new experience was intensely interesting, and I wanted to share it with the world. It felt a bit selfish, but I reasoned that since I’m such a darned interesting guy, people would naturally gravitate toward my words.

It didn’t work out that way. When I tried sharing my poems, I discovered that few people understood them. Fewer yet expressed any liking for them. Even my mother said polite meaningless things after reading them, and no one expressed any desire to publish them. I found their indifference quite surprising, even alarming. How could the world react so coldly to the thoughts of a guy who was pretty much the nicest guy in the universe?

My experiences were common enough. Why didn’t people understand when I talked about them? How could the world be so stupid? All people had to do was to put themselves in my shoes. Then they would understand how I felt.

The problem, which I only discovered years later, was that my poetry failed to tell the reader the context of my feelings in a way that highlighted their universal character. The problem was complicated because at that time I didn’t perceive my life as progressing through a series of experiences others had had as well. To me, life was being born as I lived it. The waves were parting before my prow for the very first time.

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