Why Do I Write?

Sometimes we need to go back to the beginning. To understand why we started to do something, so we can appreciate the journey. I have been creatively blocked for a while and most of the art I have created has felt forced. I decided to take a short break from writing poetry and posting it to Instagram, not because I don’t adore the community on there, because I do, but because I had forgotten my roots, my reasons for writing. I started to question why I write and it led me to find some of my old poetry, poems and stories I wrote as a young child and teen.

When I opened up the dusty Pokemon tin that lives in a drawer beneath my bed, I smiled at the stack of paper that had been folded neatly, hidden away in a box for nearly two decades. This is where it truly began for me as a writer. I started penning down poetry when I was 7 years old and stories at 10 years old. One of the first poems, that I managed to find, was about a dog and it was written when I was 8 years old.

A sweet poem with simple rhymes. Although I am quite impressed that I rhymed “food” with “intrude” at such a young age. Once I knew how to rhyme, I was unstoppable. Many poems followed. I was a unique child. I even knew it at the time. I always felt different, I was compelled to carry a notebook and pen and write, sketch, doodle anything that lived inside my innocent and growing mind.

I always say to people, even now, that I didn’t choose poetry, it chose me. Whenever I feel uninspired or want to give up writing altogether, I remind myself that some things are much bigger than me. The universe wanted me to be a writer. It wanted me to be a storyteller. I must continue. I must write. It’s in the innermost parts of my soul.

As I grew up, my language and themes naturally evolved. I would write about the seasons, dreams and what I can only describe as puppy love. Rhyming couplets, dotting my i’s with hearts. I did have a chuckle at some of the things I found. I was drawn to a poem titled Dreams, that I penned when I was 11-years-old and felt a warming sense of nostalgia, remembering a positive little girl that believed in the beauty of her dreams and had not yet been broken by the upheaval of this calamitous world.

Life is like a balancing beam, if you fall get up again.

— advice from my 11-year-old self.

At 12 years old, I was more ambitious than ever to pen stories. But no one knew it. Everyone saw a shy preteen who liked to perform on a stage to grow her confidence. But I kept the writer part of me hidden. I became self-conscious, as most teenage girls do. I didn’t believe in my talent. But in hindsight, reading this work back with adult eyes. There is clearly talent emerging…

The sky is griddled with pink and grey. Black rain falls. Moonlight filters through the trees. Each blade of grass glistens, spiked by frost. The breath that escapes me is dazzled. Like a stone falling in a pond, circles and circles of love ripple through me.

— excerpt from Descriptions (aged 12)

By 15 years old, I had written many stories and poems. A lot of them were typed at this stage, as like most teenage girls growing up in the early 2000’s, I was glued to a computer screen. But, I found this short story, a poignant tale of a daughter visiting her mother’s grave. I guess my love for melancholic stories and using emotive language to draw the reader in started here.

My throat was dry like the ancient stone walls surrounding the church. I knelt down, holding back the tears. The pain of guilt overwhelmed me.

— Excerpt from a short story (15 years old)

Now I fast forward, to now. At 28 years old. I have a published poetry book Darkness & Light, which is a ten-time bestseller on Amazon. 4.5k followers on my poetry page on Instagram. A successful collaborative poetry project called First Line Poets and an anthology on the way. I am proud of myself. Despite the setbacks, the obstacles, the years that passed by without putting pen to paper, I truly found my love for writing again. I think we always find our way back to things that are meant to be.

So, I fondly tucked away these poems and stories back into my childhood memory box. They have given me the push I needed. To keep moving forward. To keep writing. To keep carving stories and writing my truth. The moment that my pen stops moving, I lose the essence of me, who I really am. I am a writer, a poet, a storyteller. Stories live in the marrow of my bones. It is up to me now, to write them and share them with the world.

Higher Power (Poem)

What if I’m not lost?
What if I have been
carrying around
the truth beneath my skin?
What if in the past,
when I looked up
into the blackened night,
searching for a beacon,
pleading for guidance
my higher power waited?
Lying dormant in my heart,
she patiently, silently,
lovingly waited for
the right time to awaken,
to be known to me.
I asked too soon
for a revelation,
I know this now.
I had lessons to learn,
mistakes to make,
demons to burn,
a journey to take.
My heart needed to
shatter and heal,
my eyes needed
to see the world
without rose-coloured glasses,
without a whimsical
shield to blind me.
My legs needed to be
dragged along different paths,
to lead me to this place.
Now, my higher power is here,
she is alive and listening.
She whispers in the
night and day,
reveals her wisdom to me.
She lights my soul with
burning embers.
Like sunbeams,
hope shines through
my eyes again.
Gratitude runs through my veins.
I am who I was meant to be.
She had a plan all along.
My higher power
knew I would crumble,
she knew I would fall,
but she also knew
that I would rise again.
– EJ

©Emma-Jane Barlow, all words are my own.

Darkest Days (Poem)

A world divided,
living in a digital matrix,
under a veil, day after day.
Slaves to our own
comfortable routines.
Easy, want it, need it,
click of a button.
Protecting our own hearts,
the lives we have built.
Millions of human lives,
a kaleidoscope of divergence.
An array of stories being told
through one lense of time.
Then, change.
A bane is set free.
Spreading through the world,
it eliminates, menacingly
praying on the weak,
tearing human lives apart.
But we are courageous,
we have kindness in our souls,
hope burning through
our spirits like wildfire.
We are human,
we can get through this.
Stay strong,
believe in togetherness,
believe in community,
the world will continue to shine,
even after its darkest days
– EJ

©Emma-Jane Barlow, all words are my own.

Lighthouse (Poem)

I am a lighthouse,
a beacon of positivity.
Dark clouds may
loom over me
but I am strong.
The sun may depart
to make way for the moon
but I am strong.
The storm may surge,
lightning may strike,
but I am strong.
I could fall under the waves,
almost drown,
but I am strong
I am a lighthouse,
I can always
find the light again
– EJ

©Emma-Jane Barlow, all words are my own.

What Is A Poet? (Poem)

What is a poet?
Woken by a whispering
muse from dusk until dawn
a sculpter of words,
an artist who paints
words that can set
a soul on fire.
What is a poet?
The yearning to feel,
to decipher the meaning
of the world.
A poet is a vessel of love,
a carrier of pain.
A poet is a creative
spirit craving definition.
I am a poet, a label
I am proud to unveil,
a word that elucidates – me.
– EJ

©Emma-Jane Barlow, all words are my own.

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Two thousand and one,
summer roses, full bloom.
Locked hands, freckled faces,
young hearts in June.
Two thousand and four,
your name touched my lips,
reliving a memory, a passing eclipse.
Two thousand and nine,
I wished for a soul to love forever,
the universe smiled, thought of you,
the plan was always us - together.
Two thousand and ten,
the year my life forever changed.
Our love exploded like stardust,
sixteen, first kisses, exchanged.
Two thousand and twenty,
a decade with you by my side.
Our love blossomed like
summer roses, our hands,
forever entwined.
- EJ
©Emma-Jane Barlow, all words are my own.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
When the world explodes
with hues of rainbows,
roars with fireworks of thunder.
I seek solitude.
When notifications multiply,
bad news seeps through the cracks of my screen,
when the vulnerability of the planet’s future is exposed.
I seek solitude.
When riots commence,
words become weapons,
humans lock horns to
prepare for combat.
I seek solitude.
When sombre shadows
conceal my inner glow,
threaten to tear down
the bridge of hope,
I have bled to build.
I seek solitude.
Solitude is my remedy,
my refuge to find silence,
to be still, in the midst of a hurricane.
- EJ
©Emma-Jane Barlow, all words are my own.