Me Between the Lines, Part 2

Murray, author of “All Writing is Autobiography,” finds his life experience within his poems, as do I. I have been writing poetry for years now and sharing these poems with a group of friends who also write and want feedback on their poetry. During the Spring 2013 quarter at Cal Poly Pomona, I was accepted into Dr. Corley’s poetry circle. Similar to what my friend-based poetry group did, we wrote and shared poetry every week and worked on giving each other helpful feedback so we could begin the revision process on our raw and fresh poetry. This piece, still untitled, was one of my favorites that I created during the period:

His bouquet of oaths fades
to withered branches
waning as time passes
into dried sticks
and potpourri.
Decay perfumes the air
while his promises are forgotten.

When I wrote the original piece, I used a suggestion from a friend as inspiration. My goal was to write about a first date that failed. When I took this poem into Dr. Corley’s poetry circle and received feedback, everyone noted that this poem sounded like the speaker was lamenting for a love that died over time.

The more I listened to their comments, the more I realized that, while trying to write about a failed romantic situation that I had not experienced (the failed first date), I had put my own past romantic issues into the poem. Murray’s confession that he writes “for therapy” (69) is a confession I now share, despite not thinking I was writing a poem about myself during the time of the poem’s creation.

This untitled poem was autobiographic the second my finger hit the key and I started to type it, but it took the reaction of my poetic peers to make me realize that this poem was about more than the pronoun “him” and that the “him” is, in my mind on the page, my ex-boyfriend. We were together for five years and, like many lover’s promises, his whispers of forever faded with time and we split apart. When this realization hit me, I looked at my choice in using words with French roots within the poem like “bouquet,” “potpourri,” and “perfumes.” I realize that my ex’s French whispers of, “mon petit chou,” or (in English) “my little cauliflower,” still existed for me in my mind and came out on the paper.

My connection to the French language exists outside of my ex-boyfriend and in my heritage as well. While I have a French grandmother, I also have a phrase in French tattooed on my arm which will link me, for as long as my flesh exists, to my French heritage and the French language. Murray states in his article that, “[His] voice is the product of Scottish genes and a Yankee environment,” (67) and, like Murray, I find my heritage and environment both found a voice of their own within this piece, from the language choices to the subject matter of my untitled poem.

Find part 1 to this post and keep an eye out for part 3.
– Amanda Riggle


  1. Pingback: Throwback Thursday: Me Between the Lines, Part 1 | The Poetics Project

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