Personal Essay – Inez Bell

I used to sit in English classes to raise my hand and offer unique insights. I trusted that anything I had to say was soaked in wisdom, dressed in metaphor, or threaded with powerful analysis. I molded my English courses to fit the palm of my hand, and continuously fought battles against myself to be the most obscure, most gifted, English-y student I could be. And more often than not, I failed terribly. I wasn’t proud enough to be the best, but I wasn’t humble enough to remain unnoticed.

English Seven taught me that my poetry was a gift, not a skill. English Eight taught me that poetry was actually, my only gift. English Nine taught me that character analysis was the key to a decent essay, and English Ten taught me that English Seven lied. And so, my attitude towards English rendered me a self-appointed expert on all things literary and creative, and an unconfident pupil who was scared of being judged as such. In short, I oozed confidence without believing in myself, and somehow managed to produce decent pieces of writing.

In eleventh grade, I learned that poetry is a state of being or a state of mind. I learned that I am not a poet because I write poetry, but that I am a poet, because poetry is where I live.

Now, in English classes, I raise my hand to ask a genuine question or to express a three-dimensional thought, not to promote a façade of high self-esteem. I trust myself to discuss opinions with my classmates, not to offer insights from the perfect “me.” Because of poetry, my attitude towards English has rendered me more confident and more able. In the past, my consciously obscure sense of being left my accomplishments unacknowledged. Now, when I achieve new skills, or when I complete a worthy piece, I feel better about myself, as a writer.

And finally, I’m proud enough to be successful, and humble enough to appreciate my own work. However, after everything, after every clichéd sentence, every metaphor, and every thought or emotion I could (or couldn’t) explain - The only solid, simple and understandable statement I can make about poetry is that I need it. (Yes, poetry ends like a rope.)