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Posts Tagged ‘why we write’

Dear Reader,

Thank you for joining me

in this practice. It’s not easy

to write a poem every day.

In fact, it is not easy to write a poem at all.

As one of my heroes, A.R. Ammons once said,

why would anyone sit alone in a room

picking away at their own liver?

It’s not always easy to read poems, either.

But you do. Thank you.

Part of me would like to tell you

that I write every day because I can’t help it,

because I am driven to do it.

That sounds romantic and chosen.

The reality is much more practical.

It would be so easy to stop writing.

The reason I write every day

is so that I keep writing.

And the reason to write at all

is that it invites me to unlearn

whatever I think I know, to be curious

and look for connections

and remember to be more present.

And, though it sounds dramatic,

poetry has saved my life.

When I sit down to write a poem,

I make myself four promises.

One: I will write. Two:

I will write something true

(that does not mean factual).

Three: I will not know the ending

before I begin. Four:

I will send it to you.

Why do I send it to you?

Accountability. And because

at some point you invited me to.

And because when I share a poem with you,

I feel as if we enter together

into this big conversation

that has been going on between poets

and readers across continents and centuries

and cultures and languages, an ongoing

conversation about what it means to be alive.

Though we may not know each other,

I trust that we, like all humans,

are more alike than different,

and I believe that you, like me,

both long for and rail against connection.

As if we had a choice. As if we aren’t

already deeply connected

in ways that poetry suggests and physics

proves.

Though I write every day, I would never

consider what I’m doing an exercise,

though perhaps it’s making me stronger.

It’s a practice that I know I will never get right.

I am always too much in the way,

but that doesn’t stop me from trying again

the next day.

If I lived alone on an island with no computer,

no paper, no pen, I’d like to think I would still

be composing poems, perhaps in sand, perhaps

just in my head. I love the art of it, the way words

can sing when strung together just so.

But it wouldn’t be as much fun as sharing them,

which is why I am writing to thank you.

Sincerely,

r

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