Funny, sometimes, how things work out in life.
Dennis Nance stopped writing poetry in high school because of a bad experience with a love interest.
Today, Nance gets some of his many poetic ideas from love.
The result of this then and now quandary is one book of poetry – “Kaleidoscope” – published and another book – “Deja Vu” – on the way for the 2007 Wilmington High School graduate.
To many, Nance is one of best athletes to don the orange and black in Wilmington High School history. A standout football and basketball player, Nance earned three varsity letters in each sport. He was honorable mention All-Ohio in basketball as a junior.
While Nance was starring for the Hurricane in athletics, he also was beginning his life as a poet.
“I dabbled with it a little bit, probably started my freshman year,” he said. “In school, it came fairly easy, just sitting in class, jotting some things down.”
Then Nance, like most high school students, “had a bad experience with a love interest.” That caused his pen to go silent through high school. After WHS, he joined the United States Marine Corps in 2007 and was deployed nine months in Afghanistan. Nance returned home in 2011.
Getting re-acclimated to civilian life was tough for Nance. He went to Ashland University where he planned to play basketball, initially after the Marine Corps. He soon transferred to Wilmington College.
“Family obligations,” he said of the transfer. “I have a daughter (Alianna).”
Nance, who graduated from WC with a degree in criminal justice, also believed he was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He went to a doctor and found out he had a similar adjustment disorder.
“It’s a condition where if you get too stressed, you have a lot of different symptoms … loss of time, pretty emotional, many different things,” he said. “The symptoms mimic PTSD in a lot of ways. I still have issues with time. A month can seem like two weeks sometimes.”
To deal with stress, Nance picked up his pen and paper and began writing poetry again.
“That was a perfect outlet for me,” Nance said. “I have to write everything down if I want to (remember) it but when I started writing again it came fairly easy.”
While working for the Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Nance was told by co-workers his poetry was good enough to be published, a thought he hadn’t considered.
“I think I posted something on Facebook, maybe a year ago,” said Nance, who was influenced by poets Robert M. Drake and Rudy Francisco. “That was the very first time I put something out (in public). I was worried how people would perceive it. It went pretty good.”
So Nance began sorting through the many poems he had already written for his first book, “Kaleidoscope.”
“It’s a mixture of emotions, topics, things that people go through,” he said.
Nance returned to the athletic field this year, coaching football and girls basketball at Wilmington’s Rodger O. Borror Middle School.
“It’s a learning experience,” he said. “The game of football has changed significantly (since he played). It’s nice to be back around the game of football. I am looking forward to being back around basketball since it was my favorite sport in high school.”
Nance wasn’t certain if his coaching experiences would translate into any new poetry ideas. Thus far, sports has provided very few ideas. In fact, kneeling for the National Anthem has been the only sports-related topic he’s written about.
“I write about motivational things, love interests, some of the things going on today in society,” he said.
Alianna, though the love of his life, provides little in the way of influence on his writings. He hopes, however, she is influenced by the poems.
“There are some things I hope she sees when she gets older that motivates her to do some things,” he said. “I don’t have a background in writing … the basis of actually publishing a book was to show her that she can do whatever she puts her mind to.”