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Monday, January 9, 2012

Ars Poetica #100: I Believe

(Women and Children, 1990 by Miriam Qiyuk, born 1933, Canadian Inuit sculptor)

“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.” ~ T. S. Eliot (1888-1965), American-born English poet, playwright, and editor


Poetry, I tell my students,
is idiosyncratic. Poetry

is where we are ourselves,
(though Sterling Brown¹ said

“Every ‘I’ is a dramatic ‘I’”),
digging in the clam flats

for the shell that snaps,
emptying the proverbial pocketbook.

Poetry is what you find
in the dirt in the corner,

overhear on the bus, God
in the details, the only way

to get from here or there.
Poetry (and now my voice is rising)

is not all love, love, love
and I’m sorry the dog died.

Poetry (here I hear myself loudest)
is the human voice,

and are we not of interest to each other?

~ Elizabeth Alexander, born 1962, American poet, playwright, and essayist

¹ Sterling Brown – (1901-1989) American poet and folklorist active in the Harlem Renaissance

1 comment:

Charles Van Gorkom said...

yes, it surely is the human voice, it surely is one way or the other the human voice. Thinking of it as snap-shots of life in an album.