Had a bad dream last night in which two of my fifth graders came to me crying, because I'd given them an exercise that didn't speak to them, exercises that tied their metaphorical hands and made it impossible for them to write poems. "I couldn't do my exercises," they said. They had nothing to read to the group. They showed me blank pages. I said "Didn't I tell you that you could write another way?" and I woke before I got their reply.
Poetry must be made for poetry’s sake, for writing’s sake, for the sake of reaching through the space between us, connecting one human to another through this moment – not to fashion a ‘pome’ – but to give you the means to show me how it feels or felt to be alive in various poses and incarnations.
It’s not the passive receipt of a set of feathers, glue, sequins, and cardboard tubes to affix to one’s imagination (that word capitalized, sound drawn out, syllables stretched until flabby – ih MAAAG in AAAYY shun.) Not that.
I mean image-ination. Making images out of lines, curves, dots, jots and tittles, of holding back the force of ideas with a tiny comma or stopping them with a steadfast period. Of the clever turning of the winky semi-colon. Of the held breath of the Dickensonian dash. Of the vehement and dramatic colon, double dots meaning half the stop of the period.That’s what poetry does, dear. All that. It's the women in sub-Saharan Africa making small 'banks' for one another. It's Rosa Parks. It's WS Merwin, it's George Saunders, it's Elissa Schappell, it's the freckle-faced fifth grader with a raft of adult-imposed difficulties. It's the parent who fights for her kids and others. These are our tools. Raise them high, girls and boys. Bring them down, with force and accuracy.
This do in memory of all who went before.