October Leaf teenage/twenties poetry by John T. Cullen Caffeine Books

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= October Leaf =

93 Poems by Teenager/Twenties John T. Cullen

Youthful Poet: Quick Background Info

Confession. I did actually write the title poem (October Leaf) in my sixties, inspired by an amazing moment with an autumn leaf. Specifically, on a sunny autumn day, I found a perfect leaf outside, and the poem tells its story as I brought it into the house. It was a bit of a miracle. The leaf resembles maple, but is what we call liquidambar out here in SoCal. I wrote my first poems at age seven, falling in love with writing as I just learned how to write and read. I wrote most of my poetry as a teenager and twenty-something.

Twenty Year Career, Over at 27. During a twenty-year career as a poet, I wrote about 450 poems. A few were published (as young as 19), but most were not. I wrote my first poem at age 7 in Europe, and the last but one at age 27 while stationed with the U.S. Army in West Germany during the 1970s. Effectively, most of the poems in this collection were written between the ages of 14 and 24, none later than age 27. Oh, except the very first one, the title poem, which I wrote in my 60s. So…

The 27 Myth. I was fully prepared to stop writing lyrical poetry by age 27. That's the famous burn-out age when rock stars die. I actually first heard about the lyric shift from a German Lit professor (Dr. Uhlig) at UConn during the late 1960s. He showed that great lyric poets (Rainer Maria Rilke comes to mind) tend to leave their youthful artistry behind by age 30 and turn to other forms, usually prose. That's exactly what I did. I wrote my first full novel (now published as Far Wars by John Argo, first installment in my Empire of Time series) as a teen, between ages 15 and 19. That would not be the last novel, and I had over a half dozen under my belt by age 27. So the transition for me was painless, leaving a body of about 450 poems, of which I have now published most.

Understanding the 93. All or most of the poems in this collection date to ages 14-24. That will explain the tone and content of many of the love poems especially. This collection is not sorted chronologically (versus another one, Postcards to My Soul, which is grouped by years 15 to 22 or so). This particular collection is built around some whimsical part headings and vaguely thematic. I'll explain more deeply soon, but for the moment please realize you are reading a body of work written by a teenager to young twenty-something, mostly in the Young Adult (YA) period of about 18 to 22. I'll add one note for the moment: a significant component of how I lived was that I didn't own a car, so I went everywhere hitch-hiking, which includes night and day, rain snow or sleet, on New England highways. Risky, scary, adventuresome, but I survived and thrived. At 23, before the closure of my lyrical poetry era, I also hitched across the United States alone, with $40 in my pocket, and a home-made backpack containing a blanket for warmth and a plastic garbage bag for shelter; I went almost 5,000 miles on that jazz. Later I joined the U.S. Army and spent five years stationed in West Germany, where I was originally born (Army brat). So about the 93: a kid wrote them. A talented kid. Please enjoy, and come back to Galley City often for more good reading.


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