'Study Abroad' by Michaela Sheldon is Write Out Loud's Poem of the Week
The new Write Out Loud Poem of the Week is ‘Study Abroad’ by Michaela Sheldon, a drama student from Newfoundland who is looking forward in the poem to coming to Harlow, England. As some have already commented, the Essex new town has its detractors, but there are also the attractions of old Harlow, pictured. In her replies to Write Out Loud’s questions, Michaela reveals that she began writing poetry very recently – by posting poems on this website. Her favourite poet is Sylvia Plath.
How long has poetry been an important part of your life and can you remember why it became so?
I have always loved poetry in one way or another, but truthfully I only just recently began writing it myself. As I started posting on this website, that is truly when I began. I have always been involved with theatre and in some ways it is very much like poetry. You have to open a world inside your mind as you relive a character’s experience. That is what makes it real. In the same way with poetry, you have to make it as real for the readers as possible. That really inspired me to think, well, if I can create images with my body and voice, why not my own written words?
What kind of poetry do you write? What motivates you?
I did a very short play in university at the Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook which was directed by the wonderfully talented Greg Malone. It was called Under Milk Wood,written by the well-known Dylan Thomas. I was lucky enough to play a character with the simple name of Voice 2. If you read this short play you come to understand how very similar it is to his poetry. The words Thomas uses for the two narrators of the plot blew me away. He uses descriptive words for everything in the most roundabout, tipsy-turvy way that you would have never imagined. As I performed his words, it really inspired me how easily poetry can be translated to the stage. So to answer the question, I always think about the plays that I have performed on stage by great artists, and my motivation comes from how I would perform my work onstage.
If you could only have one poet’s work to read which one would you choose?
I would have to say Sylvia Plath. She is the sole reason why I started actually writing poetry. I dabbled into her work, and never had read much before. Once I did, I fell in love. I could not stop reading her poems and her journal. It took me about a week to read her whole journal and it blew my mind how thoughtful and clear someone could be. If I was given a choice for one poet’s work, it would be hers.
Do you perform your work and if so, where are your favourite places to perform?
I have never performed my own work. I guess because I have only been writing for a short amount of time I have yet to convince myself that my poetry is ready to be performed. I made this pact with myself when I began to write a poem every single day during the weekdays so I can practise and hope to get better with each one. I have not missed a day yet. I think maybe once I get back to my last year of university I will join the poets society and possibly be ready to show my work with my voice.
If you found yourself cast away on a desert island, what luxury would you pick?
Oh, this is a tricky one. I have to try to be smart with this one. I want to go really mundane and bring a chicken, that way I can keep eating eggs. They are my favourite food so hopefully there’s like some bits it can eat on the island or I would really be stuck and have to debate whether to eat the chicken or keep him/her as company.
by Michaela Sheldon
Come December I will travel
To a bucolic and shy place.
Amongst leisure and peer babel,
Oblivion will waltz with grace.
It will inform time in great haste
And leave my chestnut hair windswept
By train hum, street lamps, and the taste
Of wine brick held up by neglect.
These moments will soon carry dust,
Tucked away in a box for years,
Until my kids smell attic musk
Asking, "Mom, is Harlow near here?"