Hi everyone. My name’s Carolyn and I’m a lapsed poet. (“Hiii Carolyn…”)
Between the ages of 5–15 I was an avid writer of poems but then exams happened, boys happened and, before I knew it, grown-up life happened; somehow I stopped writing poems and started writing copy for work (in marketing), which made writing less about self-expression and more about meeting a brief.
All of a sudden I was in my thirties, wondering why I hadn’t written creatively for years and trying to think of ways to get my spark back. Even though I was writing every day, I wasn’t writing in the way I wanted to:
“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works” (Virginia Woolf)
I’m not sure exactly when (or why) I stopped writing in the way that Virginia Woolf describes, but I decided to dig out my childhood poems in the hope that they would somehow reignite my creativity.
I’m quite a sentimental person, so I’ve kept many things from my childhood – including a box of musty old exercise books which are full of creative writing in my childish hand. In places the writing is so faded, you can barely make out the words.
My poems are mostly signed and dated and some were even independently verified by my nanna, who would often rescue my crumpled-up drafts from the wastebasket, smooth them out and annotate them before storing them for future reference. At some point I must have decided to digitise them on a Sharp Fontwriter (Google it!) because there are file names written in some of the books, although the floppy disk they’re saved on probably isn’t compatible with any working device.
It’s these exercise books which gave me an idea for how to start writing creatively again; by revisiting my childhood poems and writing new ones about the same subjects, this time from an adult’s perspective and with more life experience to inform their meaning.
So what does “Poetymology” mean?
Lovers of words will already know that etymology is the study of linguistic forms. There are many variations of its definition, but I like this one:
Etymology: The study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history. (Oxford Dictionary)
With the above in mind, Poetymology is a play on words which could be defined as:
Poetymology: The study of the origin of childhood poems and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout the writer’s life. (Carolyn)
This blog will feature a selection of my childhood poems and explore what inspired me to write them at the time, then I’ll share new poems based on what I’ve learned about the subjects in the years which have passed. I’ll also weave in stories from my life to give the poems context, so that they become poetymologies as defined above.
Please take a look at my recent posts and if you enjoy reading them, feel free to share your thoughts (or your own poetymologies) in the comments.