Why Do I Write: About Suicide

Especially in my earliest published poems, it might seem like the only thing I write about is other people’s suicide. Contrary to popular belief, this is not because I thought that writing about suicide was cool. Far from it. I very rarely write about the actual person’s motivation for killing themselves, or lament the loss of this or that brilliant person. For the most part, anything I write about suicide is directed towards the society that the suicide killed themselves in.

The county I come from has a high rate of suicide among young adults and teens (I read at one point that it is as high as 9% or something- which honestly doesn’t surprise me). There isn’t a single year that has gone by, since I got into high school and became aware of these kinds of things, that someone close to me or my friends hasn’t killed themselves. (When I was in elementary school, a peer’s parent killed himself but that was not something I was fully aware of until later). Even now in college- last month, a friend of my little brother killed himself, and last week a friend’s ex got plastered and jumped off of the roof of a house and died in the hospital. If it seems like I write about suicide alot, it is because I am literally surrounded by it. And I am disgusted by it.

By ‘disgusted by it’, I don’t necessarily mean that I am disgusted that a person has chosen to end their own life. Though I may not think that it was really the best choice, I’m aware that it was their choice and that what is done is done. But I have found myself increasingly disgusted by the response of the community to such tragedy. People who never knew the kid rush to claim to have been ‘secretly their best friend’ (seriously, not even kidding. Every. Single. Time.), people who I watched bully the living hell out of the kid snap at anyone who dares bring up what they did swearing that they themselves were really ‘misunderstood’, and people get out of class to mourn someone they never knew. The suicide threats afterwards are staggering as well. Every time a kid kills himself, twenty more have to tell their friends that they themselves wanted to kill themselves and holy shit we have to give those kids ALOT OF ATTENTION until they get tired of it five days later and everyone goes back to acting EXACTLY the same as they did before this all happened (despite extreme professions to change their ways). People forget who the person who killed themselves really WAS and make up this pretend person who never existed and then beat that dead horse until there’s nothing left. Which, inevitably, leads to the mindset that makes suicide a viable option to many teens.

It’s this never ending cycle that I’ve found myself stuck in year after year after year and almost every year I have to write about it just to get it the f out of my system.

Why Do I Write: Free Verse

I’ve been asked a couple of times why I don’t bother to rhyme most of my poems.

The simple answer is that I’m really bad at it. Honestly, I have very few poems that do rhyme and are actually decent. And if they rhyme and are actually decent, ten bucks says I’m being a smart ass. The only times I choose to rhyme is when I’m mimicking or writing some kind of short satire or parody. If I’m trying to be direct and obvious about something, or emotional, or real and deep into the subject it has to be in free verse.

There’s no easy reason for that. Part of it is that I don’t really have the knack for it. Part of it is that I feel like it is constricting to me personally, and I’m not able to open up as much if I have to subscribe to a particular kind of form or verse structure. Part of it is that I like playing with lines more than words and I feel like if I try to juggle both at the same time I’ll just have the poetic equivalent of crap hitting the fan. Or just plain crap.

I have nothing against poets who do rhyme. We have a guy in my school’s poetry club that can do more damage with a well-placed couplet than I could ever do with a page-long rant. Or a billy club, for that matter. If you feel like, as a fellow poet, that I would dissaprove of you just because you are more ‘traditional’ in a rhyming sense then please stop thinking nonsense. There’s nothing I enjoy more than a really good rhyme (Mostly because I know I myself could never do it.)

What do you all think? Do you prefer one over the other? Do you like to write one kind but would rather read the other kind? Do you hate a certain poetic form so much that you’ve banned it from a thirty-mile radius of you? Do you think poetry is lesser than prose, or visa versa? I’d like to hear YOUR takes on writing forms!