When I began writing personalised poems to order, around two and a half years ago, I had no idea what to expect. Since childhood, I had penned poems just for myself, to express how I was feeling. This progressed to scrawled teen dramas (usually involving a boy or dealings with frenemy of the week) – all fused with a spark of creative weirdness. Later still, I wrote poems as part of my studies and then for family celebrations.
But writing commissioned (aka pre-paid) poems to order, for others: real life strangers and often, typically for a third unknown person, was very, very different. I’ll go into the process of this a little more in another post, as here, I want to tell you about the loveliest part of the job…in fact, it really IS the entire gig in a nutshell.
When I get the brief and subsequent content for a custom anniversary poem, personalised birthday poem or bespoke funeral poem, I am trusted with the personal detail of a person or couple I don’t know. I typically receive a lot of information and once the poem has been finalised, feel as if I know the individual or people involved and hope to heaven, that I have produced a bespoke gift poem or personalised speech poem which does justice to their uniqueness, has captured their personality, or the very essence of what makes a couple click.
I have carefully considered which details to best include, to convey my client’s sentiments in a manner that matches them and the relationship. At times, I might soften a joke or story a little, to ensure the recipient reads their poem with a big smile on their face and frequently, I’m told, with a (happy!) tear.
And as well as learning that a particular person has a penchant for salt ‘n’ vinegar crisps, or that a wedding couple will dance to Ed Sheeran, I am consistently sent tales and anecdotes which showcase the VERY best in people!
Time after time, I hear ‘kind, caring, thoughtful’ used to describe childhood friends, partners, parents and even colleagues. And every day this lifts me up a little and reminds me (to paraphrase that famous 90s hit), that despite all the bad stuff going on in the world and the fall outs we have – love really is, all around.
And this is especially evident when I am asked to write a personalised funeral reading or custom memorial poem. Every single time, I feel utterly privileged to play a small part in essentially a stranger’s earthly farewell and so, put my heart and soul into producing just the right choice of words as a final, public tribute. As well as my client’s wishes, I try to get a sense of the person who has passed and consider how they may like to be remembered.
None of us is perfect and I may get the vibe that though much-loved, someone could be stubborn or tactless for example, but in my line of work at least, these traits are always, far outweighed by other aspects of their personality…their off-beat sense of humour, love of life, the chocolate cakes they baked the grandchildren, their daily hillside walks, how they ensured no one ever ate alone on Christmas Day or the care shown, nursing a beloved animal.
So the best part of the job? Being privy to people’s hearts and thoughts and consequently, the gems of unique, beautiful detail which make up a person. I’m forever reminded of the light in people, of our interconnectedness and yes, yes, it may be cheesy…but the endurance of love! Seriously, how good is that? ❤️