For Hobby’s Sake

Jaime Coyne

I’ve lost sleep again. The words were spinning around my head, and I hate to ignore them. I’m afraid, I let this go for something as dispensable as sleep, and I could be letting something amazing slip out of my grasp. I have to do it. I have to roll out of bed, squint into the assault of light, grab my pen and notebook, and write. I rationalize that the desire to write my thoughts down will keep me awake whether I act on it or not.

It’s always hard to explain to people why I’m so tired the next day, though. I’m hesitant to start with the preface, ‘I’m a poet and…’. When people think of poets, they probably think, Longfellow, Dickinson, Poe’s “The Raven”. And if they hear someone describe herself as a poet, they think that person is being arrogant enough to presume that she is a world-class poet, worthy of being associated with such names. But when I tell people that I’m a poet, it’s simply because I can think of no other term made to describe ‘one who writes poems’.

It can be difficult to have a passion for something so abstract. When that terrifying alarm goes off in the middle of class, the volunteer fire fighters can, understandably, drop whatever they are doing to get to that fire. But I’ve found that teachers frown upon a student blatantly tuning out a lecture to scribble something out into a notebook. The metaphoric fire is certainly not visible to anyone but that individual. It may not be a matter of life and death, but once that idea escapes, chances are it’s gone for good. Ideas are sneaky like that.

I definitely think people judge me as being an artsy, theatrical person, in all the disparaging, stereotypical ways such people are perceived when I take that leap of faith to admit to them that I am, indeed, a poet. I don’t additionally confess to having the plague, but sometimes I think I might as well have. I’m suddenly markedly different; I’m a dangerous, impulsive hippie, braiding my hair and smoking weed. Then again, writing for Commentary in this newspaper, instead of writing some hard-hitting news in a more objective section, seems to spark some counter-culture biases, itself.

It’s odd – for all this commotion, what am I ever going to do with poetry? I never promised I was good. I guess it falls under the category of ‘hobby’. Like Bobby’s prized stamp collection, rarely does anyone else see or more than feign to care about my poetry. I do it purely for my own enjoyment; I have far more poems smudged in notebooks than poems published in some form or another.

This might lead sane people to ask, ‘then why are you still awake?’ At the end of the day (sometimes literally), it’s just like everyone else’s reasons for doing all their own crazy things: you can’t help what you love. And I love it when I can express my thoughts exactly how I want, reconstruct the ideas in my mind into actual eloquent words. So often, there are simply no words. Some situations transcend language. If I can say something that I’ve never found words to explain before, that’s magic to me. It’s worth a whole lot more than sleep.