20 Jul 2015
I’ve been writing more poems lately. It’s always been the most effective way for me to effectively process my life and the world around me. (I’ve posted about this before, how being a poet shapes my work as a content strategist.)
If having a kid is like seeing your heart walking around outside of your body (spoiler alert: it totally is), writing a poem allows my brain to get out of my head and work out the equations of the world on paper. In the algebra of rhyme, syntax, meter, and diction, I can often solve for an elusive yet beautiful X.
There is something about sitting with a poem. When I was little, I used to gleefully accept my mom’s challenge to untangle some hopeless bundle of necklaces, links twisted and chains kinked seemingly beyond recovery. My sense of triumph upon seeing those necklaces eventually laid out—flat, straight, and distinct—could not be beat.
That’s how I feel when I am writing or revising a poem, as if my fingers are slowly but steadily retrieving treasure from what previously seemed to be a lost cause—that morass of thoughts and feelings in my knotted head.
Last week, I was working on a new project with one of our UX designers, talking through the homepage content hierarchy and presentation. Later, in presenting our ideas to colleagues, she said to me, “You wireframe with words.” I smiled. It was a great compliment. (Or perhaps just an observation. Either way, I was delighted.)
It's moments like that where the work feels not too dissimilar from poetry. In both cases, we are laying out language and structure to create a hierarchy of emotion and understanding. We are building a framework, a scaffolding upon which we will hang bedsheets and project our dreams, up which we will clamber to reach through windows of desire, through which we will squeeze and come out the other side simply because we can.
In those instances, even work can feel a little bit like magic.
A couple days ago, I was briefly called back to an old project—the client needed a new snappy headline for a page. I sat with it for a few minutes, fingers invisibly fumbling for words and eyes scanning messaging guidelines, until it came to me.
“Nailed it,” our project manager said, and I laid the newly freed necklace flat on the desk.