Tag Archives: Lew Welch

Ninety-one

Sometimes you only have to step 3 feet to the left and the whole insane machine goes roaring by.Lew Welch

Back to poetry. It was always my first love, something I discovered early in high school. It’s why I chose English as a second major. The only problem was skill. I sucked at poetry.

Eventually, I discovered the Beat poets, and they opened up a whole new world for me. The rigidity of meter and rhyme (what Lew Welch called “terrible academic dry-ball non-sense”) seemed broken and the language of the streets ruled. Lew Welch was my favorite, of course. He was probably the darkest of the Beats and died of suicide, much like Sylvia Plath, another favorite. It’s disturbing that I’m drawn to such people.

But I deeply connected to that Northern California group of writers, including the much older Robinson Jeffers. I always felt I had found “my people.” Then I fell away. Started writing personal essays, rants and whatnot. Too afraid of the hard work that it takes to be a poet and deeply disturbed by rejection, I stopped.

Funny thing, though, as I rearranged some things on my bookshelves, Lew’s work, “How I Write as a Poet & Other Essays” fell from shelf as if a ghost of my former self had tossed it upon the floor, forcing me to look. I looked, and those pathways reopened.

As I struggled through the first two lines, instead of becoming discouraged, I thought “this is how it’s supposed to be.” I’m not Sylvia Plath (few come close to her genius), and I’m not Lew Welch. But if Lew were alive, he’d likely tell me to just keep going, to just let it flow.

It’s kinda like my garden. I bought a new house late last year, and I had no idea what would emerge in the spring. I had to be patient and wait. Something would blossom and be a thing of beauty.

So this is spring. Patiently waiting for summer.