When I was in fourth grade, I think it was fourth grade or maybe third, I wrote a poem about candy for a poetry contest in my school. My small town's poet laureate, possibly self-appointed, came to the school with much ceremony and we all recited her poem about the foundation of our town ("the first raw sight to meet their eyes was the head on the bloody spear"). She announced the winner of the poetry contest and I guess presented me with some kind of prize and I felt very proud. Afterwards the girl who hated me so much she spit on me told me that I had only gotten that prize because my mother worked at the school, which was probably not true but felt pretty bad. I had rhymed dandy and handy with candy and everything tasted like dust after that.
In junior high I wrote a poem about a father who had died as a soldier, the sad child narrator trying to comfort the grieving widow mother. "Love is like a passing song" I wrote and my teacher called my parents in with concern for my well-being, at least this is what I remember. I had rhymed song and along and strong and boy was I ever wrong, about what really hurt and what pain I was ready to experience.
In college I wrote a poem about my friend's grandfather, who was entirely insane and would sprinkle visitors with the ashes of his dead wife, which he said was fairy dust. At that time I was giving poetry readings for actual money from time to time and I thought very highly of myself for that. I wasn't even rhyming stuff because I was a Real Poet. A local magazine offered to publish the poem and changed some of the words around and I felt like someone had pierced my baby's ears without asking. Anyway that was the end of trying to get anybody to publish anything I wrote for a really long time.
Last year I wrote a short piece for a small website and was again edited without consultation which is really not a nice thing to do to an editor. I was about to persuade myself that in terms of my own writing I really I need to stop dealing with other people all the time forever. But this year there's a short story contest and they want people to write about Brno and since I can barely stop talking about Brno it stands to reason that I find this irresistible. At this point it's not even about winning, it's just about not walking away feeling violated. There's no poetry in it this time so I hope I'll be safe. Maybe I'm a little naïf.