Where It All Began
I recently started sharing my poetry on social media. This is something I have long resisted for several reasons, one of which is the very prosaic reality of plagiarism and the fear of having my work stolen. Beyond that, I have a deep sense of "impostor syndrome." Regardless of the fact that I started writing poetry over 25 years ago, and that I have written nearly 700 poems, and that I am well educated in the sphere of classical poetry, I feel that I do not belong. In a world where modern poetry can be dark and disjointed, mine is often light and hopeful. It is a ridiculous feeling to feel like a fraud in a community where I should be viewed as competent but I have always shied away from calling myself a poet.
However, I want to share where it all began, something maybe most people don't know. When I was ten years old, my mom gave me a copy of Anne of Green Gables. To this point, I was not much of a reader. I have a mild form of dyslexia which made reading tedious for me. I did not see the value in laboring over a book when I could play outside.
However, in Anne I discovered so much of myself as a child, and that discovery continues every time I pick up that book. Anne, in my extremely humbled but very expert opinion, is the single most captivating fictional character ever brought to life by words. She has a tendency toward trouble, but a completely pure heart. A hopeless romantic but in a constant battle to be practical, educated and competent. Faithful in love, petulant in spite - she is colorful and lovable and as human as if she was a real person. And it was because of Anne that I fell in love with poetry.
Anne loved Tennyson and there I was at 10 years old, becoming enthralled with him too. Anne pretty much think and spoke in poetic verses. Her creator, L.M. Montgomery was also a notable poet with a love of poetry, and so the influence over me grew. It was because of these books that I decided at that young age that I wanted to grow up to be a writer. I wanted at least one person, maybe one little girl somewhere out there, to say that I was her favorite writer. Anne of Green Gables made me fall in love with words.
Fast forward a few years and I was also writing poetry, and reading as much as I could. I've read more poetry than I could ever possibly recall. In my mid-teens I had notebooks full of poems, some of which I can still read to this day and see the little spouts of potential in my ability to articulate a feeling or thought.
I can remember exactly where I was sitting the first time I heard "If" by Kipling recited. I had never read it, and listening to it being read, I felt that tingle all over me. I was enchanted. By the time I heard and read it, I was old enough for the meaning to really resonate with me. To this day, whether I receive a compliment or criticism I always hear these words in my head: "if you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same."
And so when, a few years ago, I published my first two books of poetry I was so hopeful that even one line might hit one person the way poetry had always impacted me, that I could change a perspective or a life. And that desire persists.
Poetry is my outlet. I am not an emotionally expressive person by nature, but that does not mean that I do not have feelings. And it does not mean that I cannot appreciate the deep feelings and experiences of others. Poetry is where I can exercise that expression, where I can demonstrate and express my empathy. It is where I can express my feelings, depict my ideals and give an outlet to my feelings that I somehow cannot speak into words sometimes.
I have created an Instagram to share my poetry, both new and old, and if you are interested you can follow me there @amballard.
And it's funny (to me at least!) to think that my very modern Instagram with my poetry on display was wholly inspired by a fictional character first brought to life over 100 years ago in Anne of Green Gables.