I wrote my first poem when I was 13. I lived on an island that year and was in a split 7th/8th grade class. Total number of students in my grade: 11. And that was one of the biggest classes.

Anyway, my teacher required us to keep a journal, but we could write whatever we wanted in it as long as we wrote every day. I wrote a very long, rambling, inarticulate poem about "something," some kind of vicious beast, chasing the speaker during the night. Therapists will say it was gay desire. My teacher didn't comment much on it (she read them every day). It was notable primarily for its generous use of capitalized words and line breaks, which allowed for a maximum of two words on each line (but frequently only one).

I still have it. I've written every since, with the exception of the two years between undergrad and grad.


  1. Hey, I liked reading this, Charles. I ask my violin students to keep a journal, though I never ask to read them. I think it's a way to get them writing and this convinces me it could.

  2. I hated that exercise then. I used to always forget to do it and I would "lose points," which, in my academic fervor, was like being stung repeatedly.

    In college I kept a journal faithfully and wrote every day or nearly so. It can be effective.

  3. each photo is handsomer, and handsomeer...

    my first poems that i remember for written by the girls in our girl clique about boys we imagined were our boyfriends. mine rhymed better than most of theirs and so they started paying me a quarter or so to write imagined break up poems for their imagined boyfriends. it was a good racket.

  4. Charles: I cannot even remember my first poem. I am too old! (hehehe)
    I have about 30 volumes of personal journal, going back to the late 70's. But I hardly ever look at them.

  5. I don't remember my first poem but I ran across a sort of prose poem I dictated to my mother (she typed it and dated it). I was five. It seems to be about a train that crashes through everything then runs and runs and runs the end. It's kind of charming in a dream sort of way. Do you think it had something to say about my sexuality?