How Much Of Our Poetry Is About Us?

How much Life in poetry
When I published my debut book, ‘Sublime Shadows of Life’ my excitement was at  cloud nine and I got some copies printed for friends and family and sent them, even to those friends whom I met occasionally or had not met since school days.

One of my friends who had not been in touch with me for a long time rang me up and asked: ‘Are you okay?’

I replied in affirmative and asked why was she asking.

She had a grim tone and said: ‘Is everything going well in your life?’

I laughed loudly at the tone of my fun-loving friend and asked her what was wrong with her.

She told me that she got alarmed at some of my poems, which talked about oppression and dark moments.

Though I had mentioned in the blurb “I, you, he, we and they are universal symbols, which highlight the fact that happiness is not a destination…” but who reads the introduction!

Authors draw inspiration from life and people around them and many of them agree that they do creep into their stories.

Some of my poems do give a peep into my life. I have written about an incident that moved me deeply. Some of my poems are an emotional outburst; some are inspired from the life of my friends but all of them are not about me.

This one is. I hope you would understand who this pearl is.

                                MY PEARL

Time has stood still
The storm is yet to pass
The descent of night seems eternal
Perplexed, petrified, I wait.

Wait for a new dawn
Wait for a smooth tide
Wait for that lovely flight
Which brings hope!

There was a time
When your hands held mine
The fingers so ensconced
It was hard to distinguish.

Now I hold an empty oyster
The pearl I nurtured is gone
Slipped away, leaving marks
Hard to erase, hard to forget

The purity of my pearl,
The glory of her glow,
Now brightens another world
That mitigates my woe.
© Balroop Singh, 2003

Wendy, a spiritual poet, has shared her thoughts about this topic “I have written poems about defining moments in my life. Although at that time, I may not be aware that I am writing about a moment that I would consider life defining. There have certainly been life defining moments that I did not write about at the time, but a reference to the event came much later in life as a line or stanza in a poem, as with my father’s death when I was 19.

Ritu too has written about life defining moments: “I think one of my most poignant poems about my life was the one I wrote one morning, in 10 minutes, about my journey to become a mother…” She has shared that poem with us:


Let me take you down that road,
Much travelled through eternity
The journey to become a mum,
From twinkle to reality.

Ritu Bhathal

The plans you make at a young age,
Full of gurgles and laughter,
The horror as you realise,
What really does come after!

The fun of trying,
The monthly wait.
The disappointment,
That feeling, you hate…

The years of trying,
Full of hospitals and checks,
The medication taking you over,
You feel like total wrecks…

Then finally, the day comes
That positive is clear
The goal that you were aiming for,
Has suddenly come near.

The months of fascination,
Your changing body grows
The feeling of satisfaction
That only you can know.

Those pain-filled days, or hours
To reach the prize you sought
The feeling of satisfaction
That this little bundle brought.

I gaze at you in wonder
Are you really here?
I’m overwhelmed with happiness
And a tiny bit of fear.

Will I be able to give to you
All you want and need?
As you look at me, wide eyed
Snuggled close while you feed.

Little blessing, sent from God
My heart is filled with joy
I will do all I can for you,
My darling baby boy.

And so the cycle continues
The waits and checks again
We’re gifted with a gorgeous girl
After a little more pain.

My life is here with me right now
Some twinkles from my eyes.
But I’ll never forget those twinkles
That now, do grace the skies…

Dedicated to my wonderful children, recognising the struggles to have them, and remembering my 2 angels lighting the sky at night.
©Ritu Bhathal

Lisa has shared a poignant poem that she wrote during the difficult moments of her divorce.


Here I sit in my Prairie prison
I have known
Great joy and worse sorrow
Here I sit in my home
Longing for more…

Lisa Thomson

The ocean
And mountain peaks calling
I make this prison home
I look out of my window
While the prairie winds blow
Dust in my eye, pebbles in my soul

Here in my prairie prison
I long for my Ocean boy
The one and only
Yet some ties bind and clasp me
Fastening me to a make believe home
Among wheat fields

Can you blame me?
I bore my children in a prairie home
A landscape so flat
It cannot compare
To my wild, sea salt air

Maybe I’ll get there
But now
I gaze out of my prairie window
Where I found great joy
And worse sorrow.
© Lisa Thomson, Aug ‘06

I would be gifting two ebooks of Sublime Shadows Of Life, my debut book to those two readers who write the most poetic answer to all the posts I publish this month – #NationalPoetryMonth. Happy writing!

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections, as they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

43 thoughts on “How Much Of Our Poetry Is About Us?

  1. Balroop, thank you for sharing one of my poems. It was a painful place when I wrote it and this one was indeed about me. I love your story about your good friend showing concern for you after reading your poetry book. It’s very common for people to immediately correlate the author with the words on the page as their own experience. But as you say, you write poetry about other experiences that you see or watch unfold as a third party. ‘My Pearl’ is a beautiful one!

    I also really enjoyed Ritu’s from Twinkle To Reality (what a great title!). I recall those moments as well. You’ve grouped together the three poems about motherhood 🙂 Write on! Motherhood is a series of losses. From preschool to College, to marriage…and on. They LEAVE.

    1. Your poem has layers of pain that unfolds slowly Lisa…I could visualise you from the window though I was standing outside. Good riddance! I think it is much easier to write about our own pain and experiences because the words flow naturally. When we imagine the hurts of others and write, we have to relive them, which afflicts a poet deeply.
      Oh yes Lisa…motherhood is an amalgamation of sweet-sour feelings…pride and pain move hand in hand…they may leave but never get separated! Thank you for a heart-warming response.

    1. Thank you Robbie, you have to yet experience these inexplicable emotions…though I have tried in various poems but felt the words seem hollow.

  2. And then there’s poetic license … For me, the words fly into my head so quickly and it’s only later when I edit (several times) that I realize how poignantly personal a poem might be. Still, if the topics aren’t universal, I don’t usually share them. So I take license, here and there, to expand the audience beyond myself.

    Glad you’ve kept on writing, Balroop. Poetry, whether written or read, is salve to the spirit. Love your Pearl 😉 ❤

    1. I agree with you Bela…words do fly when we talk about our deepest thoughts, pains and hurts…some of which can’t be shared…As P.B. Shelley said: “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.”
      Writing is cathartic and therapeutic…you know that! 🙂 Love and hugs dear friend.

  3. What a beautiful poem, Balroop, and lovely idea to share the personal poems of blogger friends. I think the poems that I most enjoy those directly connected to the author’s emotions and experience. They’re so full of heart. But it’s clear to me that writers and poets are often capable of great empathy and can enter easily into another’s perception. I’m glad the sad poems aren’t about you but understand how your friend might have thought so. ❤

    1. Thank you Diana, you know all writers pour their emotions into their writing and I had written ‘My Pearl’ when my daughter chose to fly here to pursue her higher studies. You can understand how heart-broken I must be and I poured all my grief into my poetry and carried pride on my face!
      I am glad Ritu and Lisa have shared their most cherished poems here though the thoughts are paradoxical but so is life!

  4. Such a poignant post Balroop. I loved reading the poems from other writers too. I think most readers assume or think that much of what a writer writes is from their own experience. It’s not always, but often truth is mixed in with imagination. ❤

    1. There is always some reality around us that inspires us Deb and yes, imagination can do wonders when we mix it up. Thanks for understanding the emotions behind these poems. Stay blessed. 🙂

  5. Oh, how thoughtful to share some other poems, as well, Balroop.
    And some of my favorite people! Lisa!!
    All of my writing and every single one of my poems originate from the root of my roots….Even if they are mixed w/ untruths!
    xxx appreciation from MN.

    1. Thank you Kim, I know each word you write emanates from the depth of your heart. You pour a lot of emotion into your writing. Stay blessed and happy. 🙂

  6. This post made me put on my thinking cap, Balroop. In my experience, everything we write is about us in one way or another. Our words flow from our minds, which record moments in time that are filtered by our hearts and create our own unique perspective. Each of us could write a poem or story on a particular topic, and each creation would be different. There is no way to remove the “I” from our writing; it is intrinsic to being human. Perhaps once we become enlightened, the “I” will dissolve automatically ❤

    1. Thank you Tina, for sharing the philosophy behind diluting the ‘I’…I enter into the minds of people or listen to their stories carefully, trying to read between the lines, sometimes my intuition and imagination helps me. I may use ‘I’ but the protagonist could be some unknown person about whom I may have read or heard. 🙂

      1. I do the same, Balroop. When I write my inspirational posts, I use ‘our’ and ‘we’ rather than ‘you’ and ‘I.’ Yet everything comes from my own personal experience or perspective, as it does when I write fiction or poetry and songs. That’s what I meant by the ‘I’ ~ we can never completely detach ourselves from the content of our writing ❤

  7. I almost got graded down for quoting myself in a speech – because I didn’t cite the source of my poem! The funny thing was the poem was something I’d written when I was, like, seven. I didn’t think it was THAT good. Luckily, I got an A after explaining that the poet was yours, truly.

    1. Thoughts that come from real experiences are always rewarded…we may underestimate them but their real value can only be felt by others. Thanks for sharing.

  8. From what I have known many poets compose poetry in a particular State of mind. So it is an outburst of situation in many cases. BTW that’s a great poem you have written and how much the situation meant for you.

  9. Balroop, I do love your poem ‘ The Pearl’ and it is true that one’s own feelings can put in the emotions
    in different situations. Reading answers I see it is your daughter leaving home. She is the pearl.
    It could e.g. Be a ring and a breaking of a relationship…..
    One thing we all seem to agree is that we have part of ourselves in the poems.
    I recently wrote a poem called ” The Songbird” where the I wasn’t me at all. I was the bird.:) The interpretations are of course part of what we want. That they enter the readers heart and make them feel some of their own joys or pains.

    Thank you for this lovely series Balroop

    1. Thank you for sharing other interpretations of my poem Miriam, it is quite difficult to understand what was the theme or the main thought in the mind of a poet. That’s the beauty of poetry. We may be having a part of ourselves in some of the poems, NOT all. Many thanks for your words of appreciation.

  10. I think you just explained to me why poetry–despite its obvious beauty and pithiness–is not a favorite of mine. I don’t like writing about myself or reading about anything like how to be a better me. I like my unlighted corner.

    I know–and I’m sorry–that wasn’t your goal with this post but know I appreciate the revelation.

    1. You have completely misunderstood what I am saying Jacqui… poetry is not all about the poet just as all books or a stories are not about an author.

  11. Being with Saru I know what she writes on…sometimes it is even on what has been going on in our lives. But one should be open to accept it from a generic perspective, else too many conclusions could wrongly be drawn!

  12. Who the pearl is, I know pretty well. For I had once written a poem and called it the empty nest
    I did not post it on the blog. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share my thoughts…
    As I read these three wonderful poems, your words and my feelings merge.
    That’s the beauty of poetry. It makes the hidden emotions surge …
    Well..well I am not too happy with my urge to rhyme my words. 😀

    1. Didn’t I say that a poet is hiding inside your heart Somali? Keep your muse alive! You would be amazed at your potential. Thanks for sharing this little poem.

  13. Btw I agree Balroop..poetry is not always about yourself. But you certainly get into that mode or feeling when you write. Thanks for sharing this beautiful, thoughtful post.

  14. What a beautiful post Balroop.. Indeed I agree, those of who are poets write about what affects our hearts and what we draw from life around us. The words you share take you to the depth of your emotion what ever topic. And your Blog title says it all.. ‘Emotional Shadows’ which we all have that jump out from time to time..

    Lovely shares of poetry from your fellow bloggers Balroop .. Ritu’s words especially touched me.. 🙂
    Love and Blessings my friend..

    1. Thank you dear Sue, only a poet like you can understand how emotions flow through the words…how life stands before us when we compress it into words and how much of it affects our deepest chords.
      I appreciate that you understand the theme of my blog so well. Many thanks dear friend. Love and hugs.

  15. This is a good post, Balroop, to get us thinking. I pretty much agree with what you said…my writing is derived from my personal life experiences, nature, and sometimes, experiences of others. The beauty of poetry, though, is how one poem can offer many interpretations. I remember posting a particular poem a few months ago with one idea in mind, and friends who commented provided a few different meanings that actually surprised me. They had me nodding my head, agreeing that what they perceived was viable, too. It was pretty cool.
    After reading your poem, I thought of my son and daughter when they left for college. My thoughts also float to this year when they may venture farther geographically, so your words truly resonate with my world, as well (if my interpretation is correct). 🙂 Lovely poem, and I’m glad you shared your friends’ work, too; the one from Ritu evoked memories from over two decades ago. Have a lovely weekend! ❤🌼🌻

    1. I agree with you Lauren, poetry is open to interpretations and each reader understands it according to her/his own experiences…that is the beauty of this genre. My poems too have stood this test.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts about reading my poem, every mother can relate to the emotions of ‘My Pearl’ and Ritu’s poem, which brings out the bubbling joy of anticipating to be a mom!

  16. It’s an incredibly beautiful and touching poem Balroop! And such a lovely idea to share these personal poems by your friends too. I also find it quite sweet of your friend to ask if you were doing okay. Shows how much she cared. 😊 Have a lovely Sunday! ❤

    1. Thank you Sarah. Personal poetry resonates with us as it speaks the most loving or painful moments. I am delighted to know that you liked these poems. Many thanks for telling us. 🙂

  17. Sometimes I discourage my family and friends from reading my poetry or stories, because they take them personally (as if, Pam, what’s going ON with you?) instead of universally. Isn’t it wonderful that our words can become pearls to those who read them with no judgement, but with the ability to let those words fill their heart? xo

    1. None of my family members have ever commented on my poetry and they don’t read it till I tell them to…I have stopped saying! My friends do comment but most of them know now that I pick up ideas from the lives of people around me. 🙂 That is a beautiful thought Pam…’words becoming pearls!’ Thank you for sharing it.

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