I’m not too sure on how to start this – so I’ll jump right in.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing. It has only been through hindsight that I have realised why I have found poetry.
Let me take you back in time. Whilst I was growing up I used to read. A lot. I read everything. I found myself immersed in worlds of facts, fiction, news, and philosophies. My bookshelves bowed in the middle from the weight of all the books. I continued this habit of reading and collecting books throughout my teenage years and I still do it now. But despite my love of reading, I was closed off to a lot of things – especially social situations and people. People – particularly at school – used to pick on me, or make me feel vulnerable and useless. I know I was introverted and was never a partygoer etc., but these experiences stayed with me for a long time. They are still with me now. During this time I never had a diary. I never really had a confidant. I never really had an outlet. I just had these worlds I found myself in when reading. I would come home, hide away in a book, immerse myself in studying maps and globes – it was a psychological escape for me. I could imagine being far away in a place that excited me rather than disheartened me. Wanderlust was my escape.
I started writing poetry when I was fourteen/fifteen – I can’t remember which, but it was most likely fourteen – and it excited me. I remember I came home from school and I went to my room and played my music like all hormonal angst-filled teenagers. Piles of books littered my room. I was sat at my desk and I had a scrap of paper in front of me. Then words just spilled out. I remember reading back my words and I instantly fell in love. I had created something beautiful. I had created a whole world of feelings in a few lines. This continued for years and still continues to this day.
I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at the age of twenty. This was a realisation for me as it suddenly gave me clarity as to why I had been like I had as a teen. I fought long and hard only to see that the problem was within me. All those feelings, those days where I felt empty, the sudden panics when my name was called, the inability to answer in class, the fear of judgment – it all made sense. I look back over a lot of these poems and notice that these words, thoughts, feelings and confessions were my own diary throughout these years. These poems are my diary of my development, my hidden anxiety and depression, my personal hopes and dreams, my knockdowns and heartbreak, my endeavours and my adventures. My diary continues to expand and grow with every passing day.
This is a highly personal account. These poems are me.
I am baring myself to you.
I still remember exactly how I was when I wrote each of these poems.
The beautiful thing about poetry is that it can tell a story, an emotion, a feeling, in just a few words. Novelists take six hundred pages to state what a poet can write in two lines.
There is no real beginning, middle and end of this anthology. Open a page and immerse yourself in a world of literature and imagination. The wonder of poetry is it has no rules or limits. Let the poem speak to you. Say it aloud as you read it. Give it to your friends. Keep it on a shelf. Draw all over the pages. Use this book as a coaster for your coffee. Use it to prop up a table leg that wobbles. Or simply turn to page one and keep going. There is no right or wrong when it comes to poetry. I just hope that someone will read my words and benefit from them. If you are currently having an anxiety attack, there are poems for you. If you have fallen in or out of love, there are poems for you. If you have lost a loved one, there are poems for you. If you crave a world to escape to, there are poems for you. If your mind is wandering, there are poems for you. If you are planning a crime, there are no poems for you – maybe the next anthology will be better suited for your needs. Whatever the reason, I just wish you a fulfilling journey throughout these pages.
Welcome to my Empire.
A. J. Roberts.