The sun burst through the heavy mantle of gray on Day Five of my writing program’s “Spring” Residency. I had been eager to begin the ten-day session that launched the new semester, but the first four days’ temperatures in the twenties and wind blowing the rain sideways had dampened my spirits. My first-ever poetry class was weighing heavy on me, too. Verse forms and rhythms with names like villanelle, sestina, spondee, and triolet made me think I was studying a foreign language. Iambic pentameter eluded my untrained ear and my pen—I littered a fledgling attempt to write lines with five feet of iambs with either too many syllables or too few and accents in all the wrong places.
My stumble through the first assignment in my poetry class left my stomach knotted in anticipation of future tussles with this unfamiliar genre. That’s the thing about beginnings: along with the freshness of unexplored territory comes the potential—the likelihood— of wrong turns and having to backtrack, of getting lost, of failure. My bruised ego lightened up a few notches, though, as the sunrise overcame the rain-filled clouds. It felt like a new beginning in the midst of all the beginnings of this season—new year, new semester, new writing form.
Blazing sunrises appear intermittently during Puget Sound winters, but probably more often than memorable poetry will flow from my laptop keyboard in the coming months. In this medium, I’m a beginner, with words hidden behind clouds of insecurity and rhythms tossed by north winds. But I’ll keep at it, watching for at least an occasional slice of light to boost me through the pains of beginning.
How do you fare with beginnings?