Before I began writing articles in The Miami Herald when I was 16, I loved creative writing. Whether it was haikus in elementary and middle school or writing short stories for my high school Creative Writing class, words seemed to naturally flow out of me and onto paper. I remember I had a notebook filled with my poetry, which mostly rhymed.
My teachers submitted my creative writing pieces to compete in the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair where I won ribbons in elementary school. In the photo below, I won third place for a short story I wrote about a blind girl who finally had the chance to see again, thanks to a new experimental surgery. (I think I was watching too much "General Hospital" at the time.)
I also included one of my college poems titled "The Wanderer" in my second novel "Miami Manhunt." There is a scene where Ray the movie critic character finds a small square of folded paper which opens up to a poem written by his promising love interest Ronnie. (p. 167 of the book.)
He walks alone amid the shadows and lights,
Wanders aimlessly around town.
A half moon is in sight.
He rounds a corner,
Hoping to find a soul to harbor him for a night.
I was reminded of my love of creative writing recently when I wrote a piece for the New York Times about the town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire where the Covid-19 advisories are released each Sunday with a poem from the city's poet laureate. Whether she includes a free verse about the importance of the summer tradition of fishing in New England or an ode to a new class of nurses in Japan, poet laureate Tammi Trux helps break up the somber Covid-19 news while allowing residents a chance to reflect on something else other than the pandemic.
asked me to write something special for their wedding on Cape Cod. They asked me to capture through my words how they met and fell in love.
It was a tall order. I kept thinking, what if they didn't like what I wrote? I remember spending weeks interviewing them and writing and writing rewriting. When I felt like I was done, I shared it with Jessica's mother, my cousin/godmother Mari, who said "it is perfect. Don't do anything to it. They are going to love it." I received a standing ovation after I read it at the wedding. And I all could think of was "Whew! They liked it! I didn't ruin the wedding."
Because of my daily news writing and occasional blog entry here, I don't write nearly enough poetry as I did. But every now and then, when I'm inspired, I will pen a poem just as I did as a kid.