Tuesday, August 15, 2006


When I was a teenager, all my friends talked about poetry. We wrote copious amounts of poetry. We discussed poems in excruciating detail. We LOVED poetry.

We thought we were the first people EVER to write about the specific emotional crises we were addressing.

This led to my abandonment of poetry. Eventually I realized that any topic I tackled had been written about - gasp! - by SOMEONE ELSE. And even worse - it had been written about LONG before I wrote about it! Before I was even born. This information did not sit well with me. I wanted nothing to do with poetry - it had betrayed me.

In the intervening years, I have come to terms with that disheartening news. While I write poetry infrequently now (and don’t write nearly as well as I did when I was younger), I still enjoy the beautiful or striking arrangement of words. I like to revisit old favorites (e.e. cummings’ “she being Brand -new”, Alan Ginsberg’s “America”, Sylvia Plath’s “Lady Lazarus”...) and find their familiar rhythms reassuring.

...I just don’t talk about it. People look at you funny when you bring up poetry. They think you’re pretentious or just don’t know what to say about that unfamiliar territory. Last week poetry came up while talking to a relatively new but already close friend and we started to recite “she being Brand -new” simultaneously.

You know how people will breathlessly recite much loved song lyrics together; their voices gradually raise and unconciously speed up as they continue and become more and more thrilled at the mutual connection to that song? It was like that.

Those are shining moments.
The moments when you see you're not the only one.

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