While I vaguely remember writing a monster-themed short story in one of those old, wide-ruled composition books in 4th or 5th grade, my first forays into poetry writing came during the puberty-driven horrors of junior high. I was a geeky, shy 12-year old kid with a deep romantic streak (think Shelley’s “I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!”), and I was developing a new desperate crush every two weeks. The only poetry I was really reading was Poe, which fit in with my love of the science fiction/fantasy genres.
But it was exactly Poe’s overwrought sentimentality that drew me to writing poetry—I believed that poetry was the best form for emotional impact. While many of my early poems were tortured outpourings over unrequited loves, my first poem indulged my love for Arthurian fantasy. It imagined a knight in his twilight years, whose gallantry renders him untouchable by death:
The brave knight
rides upon a white
and doesn’t stop
No longer does he
play with Death
Yet as the gallant
knight rides on forever
Death can move
Keats it was not. But I kept on writing—I couldn’t stop—and churned out enough clichéd tripe to insulate a large home. Thankfully, in my freshman year I read “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” and my entire understanding of how poetry can work was changed.
-David Eadington is a poet and photographer based in Los Angeles. His work has appeared inXelas Magazine and other publications, and he was one of 6 poets selected for the annual “Newer Poets” of Los Angeles reading in 2010.