Ninety-Seven Poems

“Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” ―Franz Kafka

In May of 1984, probably using an old IBM Selectric II typewriter, I typed up an assemblage of recent poems and selected older poems written to that date—perhaps a quarter or a fifth of what I had written, and still had a record of. This was for a creative writing class in college, so it was an assignment (I got an A). I was almost 22 years old when I finished the collection, titled Ninety-Seven Poems. I spiral-bound all 164 pages of these youthful indiscretions between tan-coloured card-stock covers, and autographed the title page of the only copy. The collection included fifteen godawful haiku, a few nonsense rhymes (which are still fun to say aloud), plus eight concrete/visual poems that were a little more successful, five of which started each of the five sections, one to end the last section, plus two others. I wrote mostly longer poems back then. One poem in this collection is sixteen pages long (not shared here), and several more are five to eight pages each, many rhyming, many not. I’ve left nearly all of these poems behind, and many are downright embarrassing, but the following sixteen poems seem to work better than the rest, even if a few are merely light or clever. Three or four might even deserve more attention. But I’m glad I didn’t stop here.