Writing from Pain

06 Jul

Like many people I began writing poetry from Pain.

I am African, I’m a gay man. In college, studying Pharmacology, I learned that I was gay. It was very difficult, and I attempted to kill myself. In Africa, being Gay is the worst thing you can be, and as a Christian, I thought I must have committed the outmost crime, rather than think why is this happening to me,  though I was being punished.


I found I could write the pain away. My first examples were me. It’s when i felt that I could actually write. I had a sense of wonder at what my pen was producing. It meant so much to me. And this is the first preoblem. It means so much to me.

It is also where the power of the poem lies. Who is me/ If the words were haveing a profound effect on me, then they are worth something. Because the you, it’s affecting, is a human being.

The secret is in scrubbing away the views we have of the ‘me’ that writing, from the me that is first a human being, and second, one who is affected by words.

There are word arrangements and phrases that set into motion feelings and thoughts and which corral these into and effect on the reader. Words move.

Where did your words come from?

Having written your poem, take each word, cut them out, scramble them. Take a moment to focus on the words cut up infront of me. Focus on your desire to be free of them. Then put them back together. Fight the feeling to enjoy the setences yet.

What happens when you read the reassembled piece back to yourself?

Go to sleep.

When You arise, before reading the reassembled piec, remove all the ‘I’ you find. Do not keep them. Burn them. Focus on being free.

Go to sleep.

Now put the two pieces together side by side. What is the difference in the ‘feeling’ that you recieve from them both?

Hold onto this difference and attempt to re-write your poem from memory.

Go to sleep.

Remove all the ‘you’s in your poem.

Go to sleep.

You are almost ready.

Ask a family member or someone else to read the poem. Do not let them tell you what they think for at least an hour. Then ask them to tell you.

Go to sleep with the thought that you have only one thing left to do. Write the poem. Prepare a sheet of paper, a pen, a desk. Nothing else should be on it. A cup of water, a packet of cigarettes if you smoke.

When you wake up, go IMMEDIATELY to the desk and write the poem without reference to either the original or it’s reassembly.

Do not worry about the Is and the yous.

When you finish, read it. It will move you.

One more thing, before you re-read it, before you do anything else, now take out all the Is and you’s that you know do not belong.

Apart from editing, your poem is finished.

Hand it to a good English speaking friend or teacher and ask them simply to edit for grammer and sense. Tell them to bracket anything they think is not needed.

When you receive this edit, make up your own mind whether to keep what has been bracketed or not – at this point it does not matter. You’re excited because, for the first time, you can see the poem – and it’s good!

The most important step: Take all other versions and burn them in the backyard or in the kitchen. You are free.

You will be feeling something you have never felt before. Pleasure.

You have written your first free poem. It’s good, you know it, and that feels good.

Say these two words out loud – Thank You – then do whatever you want with this poem.


Repeat the process for the number of times that you want to have poetry to share.

Prepare to experience the responsiblity of producing poems that people respond to.

And well done.


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Posted by on July 6, 2012 in Uncategorized


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