Poem Rant

Third of December
Last weekend was my second time on the creative writing university course I am currently attending to. The theme of this second weekend was poems. My relationship with poems could be described as awkward and almost hostile:

I hate poems. I always end up writing poems. For some odd reason, other people love the poems I write. They love the poems I don’t want to write.

Reading poems isn’t for me. I know there is a lot of people in this world who share my opinion. They think that poetry is boring, too hard to understand and not for them. Only the last claim describes me.

Poems aren’t boring. You just have to find the right ones.¬†Even music and especially rap songs would be poems if we wrote them down and forgot the sound.¬†And who doesn’t listen to music?

Anyone can understand poems. If you say that I am wrong, then you have never even tried. Find a poem and read it ten times. That’s it. Now you understand it. There is no one way to read poems. Everyone understand them differently depending on their own mind and life experiences. Sometimes the poets can’t even understand their own poems so you shouldn’t stress too much. Just read a poem and let your own thoughts fly.

Even if you think that the poem is deathly boring. Last weekend taught me that it is okay to hate poems. As long as you are feeling something the poems are doing their job right.

tomatoes, you know, are real
that is, if they remain tomatoes
if they try to be melons, however,
they then become fakes
though everything and everyone is real
in their own way,
it seems we always try so hard to become fakes
-Mitsuo Aida

I know I started this text by saying that I hate poems. Maybe it is a lie? My lacking English is on the way. The better way to say this may be “I hate poetry”. I am not sure. I hate poems but then again there are poems I love more than anything else. Like that Mitsuo Aida’s tomato poem above.

I first saw this poem at Mitsuo Aida museum in Tokyo, Japan. It was written in Japanese and this is just the translation. I have no idea if it is as good in Japanese but like this, it described my feeling at that time. Before going to Japan I had tried to be a melon. I applied to university, tried my best to create a normal life and just played this role of someone I was expected to be.

Then I went to Japan. For the first time in a long while, I felt like I was a tomato again. I had to buy a postcard with this text in it. I think I lost it during the three months I spent in Japan but I still can’t forget this poem.

So, I don’t hate poems. Some poems touch my heart, make me smile or occasionally even laugh out loud. It’s awkward and maybe a little hostile but I love poems and writing them.

With love,

Hard To Understand Viivi

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A little silly French man

Yesterday at work I met silly man. He came in the small shop I am working in greeting me too happily. He kept saying hello, hi and terve (Finnish greeting). I kept answering to his greetings because as awkward Finn I can’t be the last one to stop. Then he explained that he is from France. Parisian to be exact. He also said it in Finnish and told me that he can’t say anything else in my language.

“Anteeksi, anteeksi, anteeksi, olen ranskalainen…” (Sorry, sorry, sorry, I am French.)

We talked a little even if there was this huge language barrier between the two of us. Quiet Finn and too talkative French. What would we have in common?

A lot more than you think I realized after this silly little French man left. He bought Finland magnet and left my shop smiling widely. I continued working in now quiet shop but for some reason couldn’t stop smiling. Meeting with this man who was the total opposite of me made me realize something important. Something I have realized before during my travels but I tend to forget…

I’m not the only one scared to death of speaking English. I am not the only one who feels like they have to constantly apologize for not speaking it fluently. There is a lot of us and we come from all around the world. English is maybe even more hard from people coming from countries like French and Finland. We just don’t pronounce the words like people speaking English. Our language just doesn’t in the same category with English.

We may be insecure. Saying sorry comes automatically when we meet new person. But we can’t give up. This small French came to my work place and kept talking non-stop. There was words he didn’t pronounce like fluent English speakers. There was some things I didn’t understand and some words he corrected for himself even before I realized that there was something wrong. If it had been me, this story would be different.

I would leave the shop with panicky feelings and tears in my eyes. I would keep thinking it for days because “why can’t I just pronounce the stupid words like everyone else?”. I wouldn’t say sorry smiling like him. I would look the floor and mumble something no one can understand. It’s the difference between me and this bright man from France.

So what do the two of us have in common? In addition to not talking English fluently. We don’t give up. He had came to Finland where talkative people are feared like a death. I keep traveling even if every conversation I have to have in English will make me panic. He kept talking even if his language skills weren’t perfect. I keep trying even if my language skills are far from perfect.

I am not sure where I was going with this post bu I just wanted to share this small meeting I had with silly French man with someone. And I guess at the same time I just wanted to tell everyone that it’s okay to not speak perfect English. There is more of us who don’t speak it fluently than those who do. So, keep trying and failing as much as you want!

With love,

Awkward Viivi