The 33 Poems I Wrote for Vocal’s True Colors Challenge
(not sponsored in any way by anyone, just me)
I did something I did not expect: in a two-week span I wrote over thirty poems all around the themes of colors and uniqueness (specifically, things that make me unique). While some came out better than others—though you can be the judge—I wanted to compile them all somewhere just so that there's a marker for this momentous (?) occasion. (I know it only matters to me, but still.)
Many thanks to Vocal and Moleskine for sponsoring and hosting the Color Is Pride: True Colors Challenge. I had a lot of fun writing these poems over fourteen days, and I hope there are people out there who enjoy reading them too.
Let's get to the poems!
Mood in Colors: the soft pale pink of loving yourself despite everything else
The Process: I had a conversation with my dad that left me in tears (not in a good way), and this was the catharsis that spread from that one ill-fated phone call. I conjured all the images, good and bad, that reminded me of my dad and our barbed relationship. Thus, this poem.
How it relates to me: I wrote this poem to be authentic about how I tend to revolve around other people in the way that their opinions tend to influence and define me (a bad habit, I know). When someone feels like my sun, I bask in their light. When someone is a smog of smoke to me, I choke on their fumes. You get the idea.
Why you should read it: If you've ever had someone in your life tell you, "No, you can't do [insert The Thing]," then this one is for you. I hope it springs something alive inside you after you read it.
Mood in Colors: the first bloom of paint from a brush on canvas, perhaps something serene like lilac or powder blue
The Process: I wanted to incorporate the colors of the rainbow while also relating the colors to things I liked or visceral images that resurfaced from my memory. The result is that there are some light things in there while there are other parts that are like shards of glass. I think the placement of the pictures also helps to give a "breath" before each new stanza.
How it relates to me: All of the colors and images relate to things that have popped up in my life. The red lipstick I bought for the first time when I was fifteen. The yellow tulips I bought for my mother's gravesite. Just all things big and small in that regard.
Why you should read it: I tried to make the poem "relatable" even while relaying all these things that were unique to me and my life experiences. I want someone to read this and go, "Yes, exactly, that's how it feels." If anything else, read this poem if you want a peek into how someone can share their memories in brief snapshots.
Mood in Colors: the beauty of an ever-shifting array of lights streaming through, yellow and orange permeating
The Process: I started out with the image of a kaleidoscope and the picture of how its internal workings make for different pictures as you twist the scope. That thought led to my fascination with how my imagination's landscape works and how I craft stories this way.
How it relates to me: The central metaphor of the poem is me (even if that is a highly ideal me on some days).
Why you should read it: If you like imagery that transports you a little away, then this might be a good pick for you.
Mood in Colors: a swath of purple meant for the royal at heart
The Process: I wanted this poem to be "true" while also stretched a bit for thematic purposes. I'm no princess, and my mother was no queen, but I felt I had inherited so much from her. I wrote from the place of "inherited uniqueness."
How it relates to me: My mother was my light, and I followed her lead. When I lost her, I had to find her in myself.
Why you should read it: If you've ever had a loved one that guided and nurtured you, then I think you'll find a seed of yourself in this poem.
Mood in Colors: the fight between red and blue
The Process: I wanted to write about struggling with a kind of mental illness, but I didn't want to write in clear terms about depression. Rather, I wanted it to be a bit more metaphoric than that. This was the end result.
How it relates to me: I am the one always struggling between the red and the blue and trying to find where I "fit" on the spectrum of mood and mental wellness.
Why you should read it: I think anyone who has struggled with depression or even a disorder of some kind would be able to find something that resonates with them in this poem.
Mood in Colors: the slow mix of red, orange, and other colors in the process of shifting to other palettes
The Process: I had never attempted a prose poem before, but I wanted to do something a bit different for the challenge. It's a little lengthy, true; however, I tried to put a lot of images in there that would tell you a story without having a reader devote minutes upon minutes just to reading. I hope it flows well.
How it relates to me: My grief for my mother has become like an artery in my creative life, and I poured from that well for this piece. Everything I wrote, I felt. And everything I felt, I hope it came across in the poetry.
Why you should read it: If you want to read a different take on poetry (at least from what you might normally read), then give this one a try.
Mood in Colors: the pale yellow of a wilting flower
The Process: The inspiration for this poem was someone telling me, "You say sorry way too much," and I ruminated on that one little comment for a while. Then I decided to write a poem that was truly "me," even if the finished piece wasn't exactly a flattering or exciting reflection. It's a quiet poem in that regard.
How it relates to me: A girl who apologizes for everything, a young woman who feels like a weed—these are just a few of the ways I have viewed myself. I'm getting better at reigning in negative thoughts, though. Everyone's a work in progress that way.
Why you should read it: I think every introvert who looks into the mirror and thinks, "I'm not enough," should read this poem at least once.
Mood in Colors: the white background of a new paper calendar to mark off the days to come
The Process: I wanted to write about my favorite things about each of the seasons in a somewhat unconventional way, so I tried to use both familiar and unfamiliar things to paint pictures for the reader. I also had to keep a steady balance of relating how the seasons changed me in different ways too.
How it relates to me: What I most wanted out of this poem was a way the seasons defined my life in fragmented touches, and in this way I hope it reflects how each season made a "new" me.
Why you should read it: This poem will probably make almost anyone feel nostalgic for the various reasons why they love the different seasons.
Mood in Colors: the brown wood of an elementary school desk
The Process: I didn't intend to write about my childhood rival for a challenge about coaxing out what makes me "unique." But here we are. I recalled all the things that made my rival so infuriating to me, and as I wrote I realized: you were what I was trying to become. Plus, again, this is a poem that doesn't exactly bring out my flattering qualities, but we have to face even the ugly parts of ourselves sometimes.
How it relates to me: I think we have to face what we want to be by sometimes watching the people around us and seeing what we value from their personalities. A journey to grow does not always start within. The people we meet can be guideposts who shape us along the way.
Why you should read it: Childhood musings are where it's at for this poem, so you may get a kick (or a cringe) out of that.
Mood in Colors: the white of a wedding day with darker shadows by dusk
The Process: I wrote this poem from the memory of uncovering my dad's wedding ring tucked away in the back of a drawer one day, and I never forgot just staring at it and wondering why I never saw it on his finger. To this day, I still haven't asked the reason why. I almost don't want to know. But all the thoughts and insecurities following that discovery—well, they linger, and that's why I write things like this from time to time.
How it relates to me: I always looked at myself as a by-product—rather than a gift—from my parents' marriage, and this poem captures that melancholy mindset I have to this day. It is not a pretty thought, but it is yet another thing that makes me who I am.
Why you should read it: If you have ever experienced the unease of a dysfunctional marriage, maybe you might find something here to ruminate about.
Mood in Colors: the vibrant magenta of a girl who can make a room spin
The Process: I tried to weave a lot of things into this poem as far as images that sparked and musings that were bittersweet. I wanted to write about things I liked, things I disliked, and things I wanted to be. It came together in a blur of things that may not land as well for the reader, but I love this poem because of how much someone could infer just from the things I hinted at. There are stories between the lines.
How it relates to me: Everything in this poem is something I have felt or experienced, but I wrote it in such a way to distance myself a bit from the harshness that is like an undercurrent to the rhythm. There's sadness there too.
Why you should read it: If you don't mind angst, you might like this. Maybe if you ever wrote poetry as a teenager you could relate.
Mood in Colors: the sky right after a storm has passed
The Process: I wrote this from a place of looking back at where I've been. I've been to therapy sessions where I felt like I had nothing to discuss as far as my progress with depression, but what I realized is this: every day of progress builds. You may not see change now, but you may a few weeks from now. We need to give ourselves time when we are healing. And I tried to convey all that in this poem.
How it relates to me: This is the struggle of my battles with depression laid out in a few stanzas. The colors may be muted, but they are still the stones on the road in this journey I call my life.
Why you should read it: If you are still finding yourself and picking up the pieces, then you might feel like you have a kindred spirit after reading this poem.
Mood in Colors: the pastel shades of a bouquet that's just too pretty to destroy (until the girl throws it at the boy and the petals scatter)
The Process: I wrote this for my teenage self and all the pain she felt when she was just playing a part all along. I also put signifying colors in there without necessarily bringing attention to what they mean to me.
How it relates to me: I am "Miss Picture Perfect" to a T—or, at least, my teenage self was. I put on charades for so many people. (It's exhausting, kids. Don't do it.) If there's one thing you learn here about me, it is that I have a terrible people-pleaser streak that persists to this day.
Why you should read it: If you are a girl who has struggled with the burden of wanting to be perfect, then this is a love letter to you too.
Mood in Colors: the delicate mixture of colors bleeding into other colors, like nature playing with paint
The Process: I wanted this to be a "universal" poem even if it didn't relate to individuality as much as my other poems for the challenge. It was also nice to have a set refrain for the poem.
How it relates to me: As a poem about "me" specifically, I don't call attention to myself until the "our" at the end of the poem. Including the audience, who are also experiencing this same world, was key for me. I wanted to show how we're all related and interconnected even if we don't always acknowledge that.
Why you should read it: It's a simple poem, but sometimes simple is best. It may make you smile.
Mood in Colors: the peek of a rainbow after a rainstorm
The Process: The poem fell out of me as I recollected more thoughts about the days when my mother was sick, and I almost wish I had titled the poem after the last lines: The Rainbow of You. As it is, I think the splashes of color interspersed throughout the poem do a lot to evoke emotion in a minimalistic way.
How it relates to me: I am the colors of my mother's rainbow. Always. And her sadness always affected my whole world. Not a happy picture, but it's true.
Why you should read it: If you have someone in your life who has left an imprint (whether good or bad), you might find something in this poem that makes you feel seen.
Mood in Colors: a peach-pink-lavender sky right before sunset
The Process: I wanted to make this a "what if" poem to convey a scene, as if it were fiction, even though figuratively I think the words showcase how we make decisions even despite how our moods and lives are "colored" in different hues depending on the day, time, and place. No, I've never crossed a rainbow bridge (which can also relate to a kind of afterlife), but we all have choices that can end up defining us at different points in our lives. And what happens after...well, we live out the results.
How it relates to me: To me, this poem was about the decision-making in my life (in a figurative matter, again), but to someone else they may just think I was tripping a bit when I wrote this. How I make decisions is one fragment of myself, and I take it very seriously. (Maybe too seriously. Especially when doubt comes to play!)
Why you should read it: If you'd like to read a different kind of poem for this challenge where it's not so easily a snapshot of something that has actually happened—well, you may like this one. It might make you think.
Mood in Colors: the clear blue tide right before it crashes against shore
The Process: I wanted to convey a love story that may or may not have happened—something that was more fantasy than memory. I was feeling nostalgic with the idea of being in a place that felt like paradise and wishing I had a someone-just-for-me to share it with. That's the kind of place from which I wrote this poem.
How it relates to me: The colors are all there from a vacation I took, and I felt so lonely while I was there. This is a snapshot of what, to me, would have been the fantasy ideal I would have wanted for myself.
Why you should read it: If you like love poems, then this one might be for you.
Mood in Colors: the lake under cover of night
The Process: I wanted to write a poem about my loss and grief without exactly coming out in regular terms to convey it. And so came the lake, the undertow, the feeling of drowning. The images came like a fury when I conjured them. This is how the poem came to be.
How it relates to me: This is a figurative look at the loss that has defined me as I've gone through life.
Why you should read it: Anyone who enjoys gothic undertones would probably like this poem.
Mood in Colors: the sun meeting the sandy shore
The Process: This is a poem I wish I could send to the first boy I loved. His colors were muted and gray, but he meant so much to me when I was still too young to know what love should really be. I wrote this as more of a tribute to him and how he made me feel than anything else—the "what if" of what a life with him might have been.
How it relates to me: The imagery and colorful anecdotes are the culmination of what I imagine would be the "perfect relationship" for me. By this point in the challenge's span, I wanted to write less about my personality and more about the different fragments of myself that needed release—to be heard, to be known, to be found viable and valid.
Why you should read it: Lost love rules the day in this poem, so read this if that's your jam.
Mood in Colors: the glow of a computer screen at night
The Process: I was an IT major in college, so I've used computers and code in my studies for a while now. Because I wanted to do something a little different, I imagined what might happen if the creative spark bled over to my computer as I worked on it late into the night. It's a little weird, I know, but I've probably written worse.
How it relates to me: While I don't think IT will necessarily be my future, it's a part of me now, so computers? Well, they're definitely settled into the timeline of my life. (And a little magical realism from the writer's side helps too.)
Why you should read it: This is an "off-kilter" kind of poem that may just be right up your alley if you give it a chance.
Mood in Colors: the pale shadows glinting off marble
The Process:o The idea was that we were all "pigments" of different shades, but then I think I got a little too deep in there with the metaphors. The "you" was me as an artist, determining what I'd make and how it might reflect myself as well as the world around me. That was the idea behind the poem, even layered in metaphorical crafting and sculpting.
How it relates to me: I am an artist, a creator, and I consider everything I put out into the world before it ever leaves my hands. No matter what I create or what medium it is, I think of how it will fare in the world—and if it will end up flying or falling under expectations and criticisms. Will what I create be just a shadow twin, or will it be something totally its own? Something to think about.
Why you should read it: If you are the creative type (as I suspect you are), you might ponder this poem a bit more than the other submissions I've shared.
Mood in Colors: the sprout coming up through the soil
The Process: I noticed a lot of other poems were focusing on colors from an individual perspective, so I thought I'd relay the color in this poem to someone else rather than myself or a setting (as I had done in almost all these submissions). Green is a lively color, the very shade of nature's bounty, so of course I honed in on that as a figurative for the "someone else" in this poem (which, honestly, can even be read as a metaphor if that's what you see first).
How it relates to me: What is "unique" about this poem in relation to myself is how I put all the emphasis on my protector, my guide, and my form of self-worth. I'm a person who constantly defers to other people, and that shows in this poem (even if it is more subtle here than in other poems I've written for this challenge). Another flaw, but why not explore all facets of yourself in the "true colors" challenge?
Why you should read it: The nature imagery in this poem is something I'm proud to have written, so I hope you feel soothed from reading it.
Mood in Colors: the clear glass of a mirror
The Process: I wrote this with my parents in mind (of course), and it was another exploration I took with this challenge as the prompt. What I most wanted to convey was looking at oneself yet still seeing other people reflected back—if that makes sense.
How it relates to me: This is honestly my most "raw" and "real" poem pared down without all posturing of metaphor. These are features that exist, thoughts that have flitted through my mind, reflections of me and my parents and our convoluted relationship with each other. And the result is just me in the mirror, staring at myself, trying to convince myself I am worthy of time and love.
Why you should read it: If you have ever had a fractured relation to your parents, then maybe you might find this poem familiar despite the sad feelings it may invoke.
Mood in Colors: the deep shade of a wine you hesitate before drinking
The Process: I wrote this with the "ideal person" in mind—or, maybe, the "ideal passion." I tried to capture that headiness of falling in love with someone—maybe the right one, maybe the wrong one—and how that kind of love might reflect back on you (or, in this case, me).
How it relates to me: I wanted to personify a passion for myself, and thus this poem. It is the kind of love I once thought encapsulated what "romance" meant (even if the years have cut me in cynical edges). So this is a view of what "the red of you" might do to me.
Why you should read it: Anyone who has fallen in love would probably be able to recognize a piece of himself/herself in this poem.
Mood in Colors: a palette of colors ready to be mixed together in dabs and tries
The Process: This poem is actually the first of a few where I experimented with the idea of colors in regards to "painting yourself real"—even if that means you're just a sketch at first (a refrain that will come up later, so remember that). I'm not a well-versed traditional artist or painter, but I wanted to convey as much as I could (without being overbearing) regarding some thought to color theory.
How it relates to me: I am both "painter" and "sketch" even as the colors spin me around and define me. But what do you see when the final product is put on display? Yourself, yes, but what are the details? That's what you need to study (and what I need to study about myself more in the coming years).
Why you should read it: Feel unfinished? Yeah, this poem gets you.
Mood in Colors: a view straight up at the stars to wish upon
The Process:o I wrote this easily and breezily and perhaps too cavalierly. It's definitely a love poem (as it's categorized), but it's devoted to someone I haven't even met yet—so does that count? I don't know. But I tried to make the imagery and emotion pop as much as possible without being too "in your face."
How it relates to me: This is another "idealistic" take on love from what I want rather than what I have. I think the undertones of yearning tell a lot more than the actual words do about me (though my idealism, as stated prior, is quite apparent too).
Why you should read it: If you have the hope that you'll find The One, then this is a poem to say, "Me too, friend, me too."
Mood in Colors: a blank space, emptiness, an echo
The Process: I opened a vein about my mother and let it bleed. Don't all the writers do that at some point in their lives?
How it relates to me: This is my grief in the details, in what I noticed, in what I kept with me. I think it shows that I've processed a lot but still have a long way to go.
Why you should read it: If you're not too depressed with me yet, then you might like this one for what it does with imagery even if...well...the subject matter comes off too sad for you.
Mood in Colors: a spotlight in the dark for my own personal anthem
The Process: I first found the image—stumbled across it, really—and then began to write what I would say as a pledge to myself. Who knew I could be optimistic when I wanted to be? I wanted to convey that, above all, you need to be "true to yourself" first and foremost. Also? As much as it hurts, we have to save ourselves first before we can best help each other.
How it relates to me: These are the words that would get me through a bad day, and I think they show that we can all be "rainbows"—guiding lights—to each other if we give ourselves the time and capacity for that process.
Why you should read it: It's inspirational, yo.
Mood in Colors: the warmth of a fulfilled day
The Process: This is my most laid-back "me" poem. It's simple, that's true, but I love it. I wanted to put snapshots of life in there without getting too bogged down by the details.
How it relates to me: This is my life, plain and simple.
Why you should read it: It's just a down-to-earth kind of poem. Try it; you may like it (and I'm not trying to force vegetables on you in the process).
Mood in Colors: the smeared gray marks of a rushed sketch
The Process:o I wanted to write about "hope" in a nonconfrontational way, and thus the poem you see. I know it's got the yay-yay-inspiration vibe to it (even though it's categorized as "sad poetry"), but I had to be careful not to overdo it too. I think there's a nice balance here.
How it relates to me: I am a sketch waiting to be a masterpiece. (I'll let you know when that happens.)
Why you should read it: Aren't you a sketch too? Okay, we've got things in common. Read the poem.
Mood in Colors: the sun peeking through storm clouds
The Process: I wanted the words to convey feelings instead of images, thus why the poem was written the way it was. I know it's a little messy, but I didn't want to drag on either.
How it relates to me: This is yet another "love that could be" for me very easily. I think I also channeled some of what I've observed through other people's romances over the years. Love is a force.
Why you should read it: If you've got time for another love poem...
Mood in Colors: the blur of a charging unicorn spreading rainbows
The Process:o What do you know? It's another hopeful poem! I quite liked writing this one and characterizing myself for scant words and phrases. It was fun to write, especially once I found the images that were the icing on the cake. I'll be a unicorn to brighten anyone's day, anytime.
How it relates to me: I think we all need to be unicorns in our own lives, don't you? Where else would all the fun be?
Why you should read it: You're a unicorn too. I can feel it.
Mood in Colors: the beckoning canvas in all its blank seduction
The Process: I went out with a whisper on this one because this is another quiet poem. It doesn't do anything quite spectacular or meaningful, but I liked using imagery to convey something without actually saying what was happening with this "scene" at play.
How it relates to me: I wrote about me and my feelings and my desires without really writing about me (or very little, at least). Maybe I'm the girl; maybe I'm not; who knows?
Why you should read it: It would make me very happy if you did.
One Last Note...
Thank you all for reading, and I look forward to taking the next few days to look over the plethora of other submissions (well over 7500+ of them!) for this awesome challenge. It was a great opportunity for all of us!