Seems to me this website needs something like an op/ed page, to make it more than just people and groups tooting their own horns. I have no horn to toot, but I have plenty of opinions and comments. Here’s one:
I started writing poetry over 30 years ago. I was very committed to it, read a lot, took a lot of workshops, got involved with many reading series, etc. And wrote, wrote, wrote. I had a satisfying amount of publishing success. I did a little teaching, which I enjoyed.
Then I retired from writing poetry. I became obsessed with two other practices: the study of French, and the making of small pieces of art called “mail art” which are shipped around the world in return for others sending their pieces to me.
People always ask me, “so how’s your poetry going?” or “are you writing very much?”
“Not at all,” I reply. This usually elicits the kind of sympathy obtained back in the bad old days when people felt they had the right to ask “how many children do you want to have?” and I answered, “I don’t want any children.”
“Oh you poor thing, you must want children, your life will be so empty without them.” they might say, with that pitying look in their eyes.
When I say I’m not writing, the same pity shrouds their eyes—“oh, you’re just going through a phase, you’ll get your muse back soon.” is a typical response. Or I may get a more practical
bit of advice, a book recommendation perhaps, or a residency to apply for.
Before I stopped writing poetry, I had known only one other person who did it and I admit her action mystified me. But please, save your pity and advice! I am not blocked. I am simply tired of writing poetry. I’m reading a lot of poetry, and enjoying it very much. The freedom to read a poem without the little voice in the background going “you can do that! Get up and do that right now!” is amazing.
I don’t believe in the word “never” I may write again someday. But for now I’m delighted to let others handle those reins, so many of you do it so very well!