Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ars Poetica #100: I Believe

Poetry, I tell my students,
is idiosyncratic. Poetry

is where we are ourselves,
(though Sterling Brown 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 to 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?

By Elizabeth Alexander, who was selected to write and deliver the inaugural poem at Barack Obama's presidential inauguration, as reported in this morning's New York Times.

Want amazing? Read Alexander's Neonantology »

Also highly recommended: Poetry interviews Alexander on Obamapoetics »

1 comment:

I, Rodius said...

Hmm. Second reference I've read today to the previously-unheard-of Savarin Coffee . What does it mean?

Neonatology for me was hours gone in a flash, watching his body temperature rise under a heat lamp. Days lived in a haze, where I heard his phantom crying in the roar of a running faucet or the garage door opener. Momentous life and death seconds or hours in the surreal hospital nights trying to get him to suckle. Sobbing trying to tell my brother about it while he helped me install a car seat. Strangest best worst time of my life.

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