A Bunch of Reasons Why Poetry is Important (to me)

Poetry is like when a stranger tells you your backpack is open and then proceeds to zip it up for you; it is small and momentary and connected. Loving poetry takes patience. It takes some sickness, too. It takes the small discs in your back and your esophagus, the spaces in between your fingers and the back of your knees.

Poetry is a bunch of words I’ve never heard in my first language, words I could never recognize outside of the very poem in which they are situated. It is graceful and inadequate. One of my favorite Frank O’Hara poems ends with “if there is a/place further from me/I beg you do not go.” I like poetry that keeps going, despite. I want to write poetry that keeps going, despite. I am desperate for movement and volatility. I like poems that share that desperation.

Poetry is sustainability. It is story and survival. I like poems without end results. I like poems that are like pull-out sex. I like poems that are written on the body, tucked behind bottom lips, or stapled into closed palms. Poetry is always pronounced in the quiet voice of an angsty/abhorrent/angelic teenager; I love and hate that voice simultaneously.

Have you ever danced naked in a small hallway while listening to Beyonce with the lights on or stepped on something sharp and it hurt so bad that you couldn’t even scream or swear so you just grunted loudly into your cheeks and held tight on to your hurt foot? That is poetry. Have you ever drank a coffee so hot that your tongue felt raw and weird for days afterwards? That is poetry. Have you ever met someone at a party who reminded you of someone but you can’t remember who so you spend the entire party trying to figure it out and you don’t figure it out until that person leaves so you can never tell them that they remind you of someone? That is poetry.

It is the act of making love, each stanza the spot on the lover’s skin they’d never let anyone else see. It is a sin’s sin. Poetry is doing what you can and enjoying what you can’t. Poetry is about making space and staying healthy. Pablo Neruda once wrote, “I must renew my bones in your kingdom,/I must still uncloud my earthly duties.”

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