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A Man With A Calling To Poetry: Boise's John Wulf
Idaho Senior Independent June/July 2012
Poetry has been said—and rightly so—to be many things to many people. Carl Sandburg called it, “a packsack of invisible keepsakes” while William Wordsworth deemed it, “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.”

To someone like John Wulf, a man who writes verse as naturally as he breathes, creating poems is all that and more. It nourishes his soul in the same way a good meal nourishes his body. And it is just as essential to his well being because writing poetry is how John gains a better understanding of himself and the world around him. Whatever moves him from angst to awe or from heartbreak to happiness is fair game for his pen.

“If I don’t write poetry, I get constipation of the brain,” remarks John, who likes to carry a voice recorder in his pocket so he has a fast easy way to keep track of the inspirations that occur throughout the day and that could possibly trigger a poem. “I keep files of these one-liners or snippets. Every now and then, I get them down so I can revisit them and turn them into poems.”

Primarily, John writes for himself, to express his feelings but not necessarily to write so others can understand or relate to those words. For the most part, John jots down his poems in mere minutes. The tinkering comes later.

“I do the revisions to insure the poem makes sense,” says John. “And I agonize more over that than writing the original poem. I put the flavor out there to be enjoyed and hope it also touches something in the reader.” As he says, “It’s my side of the conversation to look at my thoughts myself.”

Like many poets, John writes haikus, rondelets, and free verse that often focus on the subject of love, which he considers the universal language.

“Poetry is my best attempt to give love definition and explore its mysteries. Throughout life, we get different tastes of what we consider the complete package,” says John, who describes himself as someone who has, “spent a lifetime loving wrong.” Among the hundreds of poems he’s penned, you’ll find odes to familial love, romantic love, disappointments in love, and self-discovery through love—in essence the human condition with all its joys and yearnings.

Additionally, he pens stark stream-of-consciousness images evoked by his army days in Vietnam and creates impish limericks about everything from Grape Nuts to procrastination. He also pours forth luminous upbeat verses celebrating nature’s beauty in desert as well as mountain setttings. 

“One of my requirements in life is to live within view of the mountains, whether they are naked or clothed in timber,” says John, who spent most of his life in Montana’s Flathead Valley where he was surrounded by the Rockies as he raised a family and worked in the timber and automotive industries.

His passion for writing poems stretches all the way back to his grade school days when he wrote his first verses and became fascinated by word play. John has turned to poetry ever since then as a way to express and examine his thoughts and share his observations and insights with others.

“I wasn’t a great student but I had an interest in poetry and absorbed most of it. I seemed to have an innate sense about it. Maybe because I come from a musical family, I always seem to have had a sense of rhythm and rhyme,” says John. “It’s the flow of words I really love. I play with the words till the poem makes sense to me and I hope makes sense to others. I consider myself a bit of a cowboy; I just herd words around to try to clarify and put a sense of order to my feelings.” 

For John, the hardest part of writing poetry comes when he’s capturing emotions that aren’t warm and fuzzy.

“They come out like a stream-of-consciousness barrage. Then I look at them and rephrase them. Sometimes it’s frightening to see what’s in your head but this is a way to let it out. When I start to play with the words I’ve written, it takes the sting out of them,” he explains. “They lose their power over me to make me angry or afraid. It’s rewarding and counteracts feelings of failure.”

While some poets may rely on old-fashioned pen and paper to jot down their phrases, John prefers the modern-day laptop both as a writing tool, which allows his words to tumble out freely, and as a means to share with and learn from other poets.

“Computers are a real gift. If I had one 40 years ago, I’d have written a lot more poetry. I like playing with the formatting to match the sentiment. It gives me an artsy freedom, plus I’ve been able to connect with other poets through the internet.”

One of his favorite sites is poetrysoup.com, which is a supportive community of poets from all walks of life ranging from poetry novices to professionals.

“Poetry Soup was a source of life for me when I found it last summer and the first place where I publicly shared my poetry. There’s an amazing spectrum of talent there and people are so encouraging. Whether you want spontaneous feedback or constructive criticism, you can get it.” 

Most people, if asked, would probably deny having the talent to string together stirring words that could evoke vivid emotional images in readers. But John would be the first to tell them everyone has this ability. 

“Poetry is just expressing yourself, talking to yourself in a different form. Anyone can write poetry. It’s an exploration of our thoughts and feelings that lets us take a deeper look at life,” he says. “The poet speaks from his being, a place every man has inside but seldom visits. When the words of the poet resonate in you—move in you—congratulate yourself. You are in your place of being, you are the poet.”

John is currently in the process of self-publishing his first collection of poems entitled, “Lady Who Loves The Whisper.” It can be purchased through ETSY.com or by contacting John directly at bailexie@aol.com. Read on for a sampling of some of his favorite short poems.

Montana Bandana
There once was a man from Montana
who refused to wear a bandana
he was ridiculed, of course,
while riding his horse
for ignoring Americana

Under the Covers
man is not word spoken
woman is not dress worn
confuse and heart is broken
tender love tattered, torn

Kindred Soles  
a visit to my special sister’s house
a long walk in recent harvest fields
a spectacular rocky mountain horizon
a bond stronger than time or distance

feel like I was wearing my heaven shoes

Ash Meadow 
tender shoots whisper
hope breathing life again... 
in the ash meadow

Warts
I have sought love
or
my perception of love
but
failed to love myself 
truly
warts and all
therefore
love runs