Thursday, January 25, 2007

Why I Love Poetry (or Why I'll Always Work 9 to 5)

When this week's prompt was posted for Poetry Thursday, I was preparing to deliver a lecture to a class on Why Poetry Still Matters. I created this lecture on a dare from another instructor, a fiction writer. He often teased me about my devotion to poetry, despite it's lack of commercial success and lack of popularity in our culture. Delivering this lecture to my students always excites me, because I like to turn these kids on to the ideas and rhythms of 20th/21st Century poetry. After contemplating this week's prompt, and realizing that I couldn't condense my lecture into 153 words or less, I decided to create a new type of argument for poetry, in poem form.

153 Argument for Writing Poetry

because when I was little, I believed
thinking a word dreamt it alive.

because most mornings, I don’t want to.
but then, I see sunlight shining on snow
bounce and refract into hundreds
of shades of blue, and I do.

because syllables sing inside my skin.

because I opened a fortune cookie last month
which said, “You see beauty in ordinary things,”
and I agree. because

I tasted caviar for the first time last week
and the delicate eggs burst
like bubbles beneath my tongue

and it tasted like salt and dirt
the way my husband’s skin
tastes like salt and dirt.

because I counted every word of this.

because I listened to our president speak
tonight, and I was equally

afraid and awed
by the cadence and hum of his words. because

there is magnetism between
two bodies, two words. besides,

what else am I supposed to do
with all of this?


bgfay said...

The eggs and the skin, the cadence, and what else could you do. These all sing to me and so does your poem. A lot of the poetry I read from Poetry Thursday seems like the sort of thing that was composed in absolute silence and so the words remain as pixels on my screen. Yours sounds as though you were singing it as you wrote, as though the rhythm of it was the same as the gentle brush and tap of snow on the window, and when I read it, I heard a voice that wasn't my own reading inside my head.

For lack of a better phrase, that's pretty cool.

Thank you for the poem.

Poet with a Day Job said...

Absolutely loving that last line, which completely sums it up for me: all the observations, all the feelings, all the stuff of the world: what the hell else am I going to do with it all?

Thank you!

Dana said...

because I listened to our president speak
tonight, and I was equally

afraid and awed
by the cadence and hum of his words.

That is some cadence and hum he has, isn't it?

Superhero Activist said...

"because syllables sing inside my skin"

Nod. Nod. Nod.

Yes. That is brilliant. I love this concept, the image it provokes inside of my head. It's so apt and so fantastically imaginative.

(And hurrah for Minneapolis)

Jessica said...

Sorry that I haven't been replying individually -- it's been a doozy of a week.

bgfay--I am really honored by your compliments. I think writing should be musical, so I'm glad that you can hear that in my poetry.

PWADJ -- I was bummed to see that you didn't post this week, but I'm glad that you stopped by. :)

dana -- it's really clear that the president spends time in church, from the cadence of his words. but it's also a little scary.

superhero activist--thank you for stopping by and for your comments. hurray for mpls, indeed!

_Soulless_ said...

Exhilarating to read, as though I were a child again, rediscovering the little tunes that would pop in my mind and I would just hum and bob my head.

because syllables sing inside my skin

I hope that gets quoted in your class. ^_^ Cheers.

Rethabile said...

It's nice when syllables do that under one's skin, innit?

Marie said...

You re-reminded me of all the reasons I love poetry...
My favorite part was "because syllables sing under my skin."

I'm so glad you decided to blanket the world with your love of the music of words...the picture of you writing on a yacht...mmmmmmmm...I'm jealous!