I was a Teenage Poet

It was in a high school creative writing class that the foundation was laid. There Michael Johnston and I, Smalltown Poets’ principle lyricists, were challenged to create candid and accessible poetry.
after taking several years to hone our crafts (both poetic and musical),
we’re ready to share our Smalltown Poetry with the world. Our goal now,
as in high school, is to communicate through writings that are honest,
creative, and clear.
“Good writing is honest writing.” With this conviction, teacher Larry
Bussey pounded this concept into our 16-year-old brains.
Should we write what we felt instead of what we believed would entertain
readers? The truth, we would learn, is that honesty is entertaining.
That is, unless we so coat it with boring verbiage or deprive it of
detail that we rob our experiences of their appeal. God doesn’t make us
dull; we do. I must be myself creatively.
For many, a creative work is merely a calculated regurgitation of catch
phrases. A writer’s task is saying what has already been said in a
different way, thereby creating instead of repeating. For instance, what
if I wanted to say “life is hard”? How creative is it to pen the words
“life is hard” to communicate that thought? In most cases, this line
would be distractingly uninventive.
I could choose a different
adjective, use a metaphor, or create a new simile instead. Sometimes
honesty needs a makeover to escape being mundane. How about this? “Life
is a cobblestone path and I’m barefooted.” Assuming that this is honest
and fairly clever, I now have to be sure of its clarity.

Many true and artistic writings simply make no sense. No matter how
vivid they are, stream-of-consciousness images evoked by a writer who
can’t decide what he wants to say are self-defeating. As I write, I ask
myself, “Will this speak to anyone but me?” If not, it generally won’t
be regarded as a work of art. The goal is communication.

The writings of Smalltown Poets and myself aren’t the standard.
However, we’ve learned from good advice. To those who share our goals as
artists, I reiterate: be honest, be creative, be clear.


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