Poetry: Dreaming Under Foam (A Gymnastics Poem) + I’m a Famous Anonymous Poet???

 
 

Someone tried to steal my poem! And I’m a famous anonymous poet!

I promise this isn’t becoming a poetry blog. This is a poem I wasn’t planning on posting here because it’s not really a good fit for a sci-fi/fantasy book blog. But these discoveries were too strange not to share.

When I first shared this poem on the internet in 2013, it spread around quite a bit among gymnasts. I knew it would end up becoming another anonymous poem passed throughout the gymnastics community, and I think I liked that idea. I didn’t need my name attached to it. No one was going to know who I was even if they saw my name. Even if they tried to look me up, I wasn’t a blogger at the time or anything. My poem is for the people! It belongs to the gymnasts!

But I randomly decided to Google search the poem recently, and I found some interesting results, aside from the usual sharing around on blogs, Pinterest, etc.

The first thing I found was someone who posted the poem on some journal-y, social media-y site and claimed they wrote it. I don’t mind it being shared anonymously, but to have someone lie and claim my work as theirs?! That did bother me. But I also had to kind of laugh because I guess this means I’ve made it? I tried contacting the site to have it taken down, but they ignored my email.

Then I found it included in some Wattpad collection of poems. I don’t think that person was claiming to have written the poems though.

Then—and here’s where it really gets weird—I found it included in two workbooks! Like, with quiz questions and vocabulary and stuff. And that is just so funny to me.

That means I’m a famous, published anonymous poet. 😂

I’m just kidding, obviously, about being famous. And the workbooks are just for English comprehension or something. I have no idea where or what sort of classes they’re used for. Not exactly what I’d call being published. It still cracked me up though.

Anyway, the poem. I was inspired to write this, oddly enough, while watching Suite Life on Deck. There was one episode in which a character wrote a song about her life growing up on a farm. She pointed out some of the ways that her childhood was different because of it (but in a fond way), and that got me thinking about how my life was different basically growing up in a gym. My poem is titled “Dreaming Under Foam” because some of my best, fondest childhood memories are of when we used to bury ourselves in the pit under the foam. Playing hide-n-seek. Chatting and hanging out. Just ’cause. And [uneven] bars was my favorite event, so I spent a lot of time just chillin’ and lying on mats under bars too. The poem draws heavily on my personal experiences (like handstand contests every morning at camp, and the scar I still have on my toe), but many of those are also shared experiences among gymnasts.

My poem may not be super relatable to people who didn’t grow up doing gymnastics, but maybe you’ll still find it relatable to whatever passions or childhood experiences you’ve had in life.

I guess I can’t technically prove I wrote this. The best I could do is point out the date stamps where I originally shared it, which I’d do if I really needed to prove it, but I’d rather not share my personal FB account here. So instead, here’s the original Pinterest pin that shows the date it was first shared there if you put it into a structured data or rich results tester (because it looks like Pinterest no longer shows dates). I no longer have the blog it was pinned from, but the pin still exists. Also, there are couple different image versions floating around, one of which uses the photo above (that I took), the other a silhouette of me, because I made the images when I first shared the poem.

So there it is! Although I’m fine with the poem being shared without credit, hopefully anyone actually trying to figure out who the author is will find this post.


I grew up lying under bars and lounging under foam
With chalk as my makeup and my fingers as my comb.
Every surface was a table, a playground, and a bed,
Regardless of the time of day or what the coaches said.
Though I loved my teammates, my best friends were my grips,
And they weren’t really christened until stained by cuts and rips.
Handstands were a morning staple more than coffee will ever be,
And the coaches made it that much better by being family.

I grew up chatting under bars and giggling under foam,
Believing leos and tape were worth more than silver and chrome.
The tramp was made for seat drop wars like the low bar was made for scars,
And we all spent less time training than fighting over which beam was ours.
I could sprint across the floor, past mats and wires, without fault,
But I still couldn’t practice without running into the vault.
Injuries, fear, and obstacles were part of every day,
But good times, fun, and laughter were never far away.

I grew up dancing under bars and playing under foam,
Something I’ll remember no matter where I roam.
Skills, routines, scores, medals—these things are all great,
But they don’t compare to your passion and the memories you create.
It’s not about what you do, what you did, or if you got far;
It’s about how it stays inside you, a part of who you are.
It’s not what the eyes see but what the mind sees that’s true,
And seeing through the mind of a gymnast is an interesting view.

I grew up hoping under bars and dreaming under foam
In a place my heart will always and forever call its home.

(February 2013)

Here’s the photo (from 2009, if only I still looked this good in a swim suit lol) the silhouette image mentioned above is based on, and just for fun before you go, here’s an old video compilation of me just having fun at gym doing handstand walking obstacle courses. 😆 (The last one in the video took me TEN tries because I kept messing up right at the end, hence the shaking arms but also the excitement!)

 
 
 
 

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If you enjoyed the poem or found it relatable, let me know :-)

 

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  1. Greg

    You are published lol! Although yeah, weird for people to claim your work as your own. Sigh I’ll never understand that! Anyway great poem! This is nice

    “Injuries, fear, and obstacles were part of everyday,
    But good times, fun, and laughter were never far away.”

    Awesome!

  2. Laura @ Daydreaming Dragons

    Wow, that’s so crazy! You’d think to be included in any kind of official educational workbook they’d need to know who the author was to get permission! It’s like with blogging you can’t just take any old picture off google and use it in your post, so you wouldn’t think they’d just take something anonymous they found online and use it.
    But still, technically you’re published, so yay! And you definitely know you’ve made it when people are trying to take credit for your work. It’s a really good poem! I always wish I could write poetry, but I’m just so bad at it!

  3. Suz

    Ooh, I didn’t know you were a gymnast. Very impressive.

    I can’t believe how some people think it’s OK to steal the work of others. Imagine using someone’s poem in a workbook without asking! So rude.

    But I can now say I know a published anonymous poet. Yay!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks :-) I wasn’t actually that good lol.

      I actually didn’t mind the workbook since I didn’t really publicly take credit, and they just credited anon, but the person who actually tried to say they wrote it?! 😠 I don’t get it either!

  4. Jessica

    Nice poem. I love gymnastics but never tried it. Gymnastics is one of my favorite sports to watch. Anyway, I wrote a story a few years ago. Our creative writing class teacher in college wanted us to write a story. I wrote about a girl who could kill people with her hands. I had a dream about it and thought it would be a good story. Then our teacher said the story had to be a ghost story so I changed the ending of it,. Then a few months later I found out Supernatural had an episode similar to my story. Then a few years later I discovered that Tahereh Mafi wrote Shatter Me which is very similar to my story. I’m not mad about it. I actually loved the Shatter Me books.

  5. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    Your published somewhere (sort of) I’d take it as you being a published author. And is it a sign of success that someone wants to claim your anonymous work as their own? I knew you used to do gymnastics and it’s a really good poem which shows the joy you had growing up doing it. It’s great, and I am insanely impressed at your handstand skills, my arms were shaking at just the thought of that.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol I guess *technically* I’m published :-P Thank you! I’m glad my love of growing up as a gymnast shone through in the poem :-) Handstands were the one thing I was actually good at, haha.

  6. Roberta R.

    We already talked a little about this on Twitter, but it was nice to read the poem. It does convey something universal with regards to all the passions one can nurture in their life. Anyhow, huge BOO to the poem-stealer. Even if they don’t take it off their site, you should send you a daily barrage of angry emails, at least to ruin their day.

    Those handstands look so hard to accomplish!