A! Magazine for the Arts

Margo Thomas and her horse Romeo. Scroll down to read one of Margo's poems.

Margo Thomas and her horse Romeo. Scroll down to read one of Margo's poems.

Youth Spotlight: Expressing Emotions Through Poetry

March 24, 2009

Margo Thomas, 19, a sophomore at Virginia Intermont College, is originally from Baton Rouge, La. Margo came to VI to major in equine studies and she is the current President of the college's Poetry Club.

How and when did you begin writing poetry?
I took a Creative Writing class when I was in the seventh grade and it sparked my interest in poetry.

Have you been writing since then?
No, I took a break in high school. When I arrived at Virginia Intermont, I saw some flyers around campus about Poetry Club meetings, so I attended and I got back into writing.

Tell us about your poetry.
I have found that writing poetry has allowed me to get my feelings out of my head and onto paper so that I don't have to think about them as much. It is a kind of therapy for me. Writing poetry has also helped me figure out who I am as a person. I think that other people can also benefit from it in these ways.

The way that I write poetry is kind of stream-of-consciousness, meaning that I just write whatever words come into my mind. I've heard that you should not erase words that you have written because these are your truest thoughts. That's not really how I write, but I do try and put my thoughts down and do a second editing, and a third and fourth, and so on. A lot of my poems aren't finished. I like to go back and see if my thoughts about a subject have changed. I have no definite style of poetry. Some of mine rhyme, others don't at all, some have stanzas, and some are just one long one. It just depends on my mood and the poetry.

How many poems have you written?
I have completed 20 or 30; I have lots that are incomplete. I start [poems] and don't finish, so I have a lot of unfinished poems lying around.

What prompts you to write a poem?
My topics come from anything and everything. Sometimes if I'm having emotional problems and I need to cope, I write. Sometimes I will write about something random. I don't normally write simple poems, meaning one that is just about an object; I usually find a way to put a deeper message in them (consciously or not). I tend to write about journeys or finding myself. I also tend to write about society and politics because these things often frustrate me.

What tools and techniques have you learned from your studies or from reading that help you to express your own thoughts and emotions?
In my English classes, I have learned the importance of language and its effect. Every word has different dictionary definitions, but they also have different meanings to the readers. This is something that I [take into account] when considering what words I use. As far as expression, I have also learned from reading other poets that expressing myself should not be limited. Too often, I begin a poem and think about what other people will think of me if I read it aloud. And then I remember that I do this for myself.

Have ever considered publishing your poems?
Wow, no, I haven't, but I would love to publish them if I had the opportunity.

If you were going to endorse poetry, what would you say?
Poetry to me is emotional. It has helped me figure out who I am, and I think it can help others do the same for themselves.

Are there well-known poets whom she admires, and why?
I admire every poet. To attempt to write poetry is worthy of recognition to me. Of the famous poets, I enjoy Shel Silverstein and Emily Dickinson. I think Silverstein is refreshing and fun, but he still conveys a message in a lot of his work. Dickinson uses very distinct language in her poems that she specifically chooses to convey exactly what she means, but her poems can be interpreted in many ways.

Tell me about being President of VI's Poetry Club.
It's a lot of fun. We get together every other week and have a meeting/reading.

How many members do you have?
We have about 20 members, and there are about 10 regulars who always attend the meetings.

What do your readings consist of?
We get together and express ourselves. Some read original poems and [sing] songs with instruments.

Do you ever sing?
No, but I always read. Sometimes it's an original of mine; but even if I don't read something of mine, I always take something to read. At our last meeting I read Robert Frost. The meeting before that was on Inauguration Day, and I read the poem that was read at the Inauguration.

What does poetry mean to you?
It's an outlet for me. I don't talk a lot about my emotions. [When] writing them I get to express myself. It doesn't matter that no one may ever see what I write -- it helps me. So many times I have sat down and begun to write, and when I finish, I realize the next step I need to take in my life, or I have learned something new about myself.

Tell us about VI's Poetry Club.
The Poetry Club is kind of a safe haven for students to express themselves. We are not a judgmental group and we appreciate every reading. There are about 20 members in the club. We welcome all faculty, staff, and members of the community.

What do your readings consist of? Do you critique or discuss each other's work?
Our readings only involve the recitation of poetry or song. Some people read their own work while others bring some pieces from their favorite poets. We also welcome people to play music and read or sing songs. We do not try to discuss the poems or critique each other; it is simply a place for students to express themselves without being judged. Our meetings are every alternate week. Some nights we just read poetry in a quiet room; other nights we invite musical guests such as Annie Robinette, and hold these meetings in the Student Center on campus.

What Others Are Saying...

Professor Randy Smith, director of the Poetry Club at VI, said, "Margo captures the essence of the club. We place emphasis on expression and participation. Only on rare occasions do I engage them in the technical aspects of poetry. I DO, however, try to talk about the love of writing and give tips about the expressive, creative side of it all. The Poetry Club has become a wonderful outlet for me and I hope for many of them."

Smith continued, "Speaking of Margo's writings specifically, I find her work to be refreshingly honest and emotional. She writes what she is feeling and does so in a thoughtful and evocative manner. Many of her poems are introspective and quite cathartic (for her and the reader/listener). I firmly believe that poetry is made to be read aloud. Reading from a printed page is one-dimensional and fails to deliver the full effect of the words."

About Kacey Wilson: A native Bristolian, she is a history major at Virginia Intermont College who will graduate in May. She works as a ballroom dance instructor for the National League of Junior Cotillion and assists Bristol historian "Bud" Phillips. She is the designer of Washabag, a children's art bag.

The True Patriot
by Margo Thomas

Is that what I am?
Do I love my country?
Do I love it truly?
Pollute the air
Pollute the water
I'll drive my SUV over your garden.
I hate to care about the earth
I hate to admit that I am lucky
I am not starving
I am clothed 1000x over.
I am not thirsty
Consume and waste
Recycle – pshaw –
That ozone hole is not my fault
I care only for myself.
Others are not my worry
Those frail children dying – without knowing my riches
They do not matter
Politicians not concerned for the masses
Only caring about my next paycheck
Poverty on the streets,
No prescriptions for the elderly
Why care about the rest of you?
Please vote for me in November!
So is this what it means to love my country?
Is this patriotism at its finest?
If it is, please let me know
I think I need to find a new home.

- Poetry Reading April 21: Gretchen McCroskey, 'Finding My Way Home'
- Back to Main story: Regional Poets Celebrate National Poetry Month