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Poetry is not a luxury.

It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action.

Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.

Poetry is not only dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives. It lays the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before.

—Audre Lorde


Poetry has a bad rap.

Was it the Romantics, with their swooning about love 

and the beauty of birds

that makes us see poems as frivolous?

A light appetizer, or a sweetwhich sugar coats the mouth, but doesn’t fill the stomach. 

There is something substantial a poem provides—

a history of human emotion,

a telling of the story of who we are,

or who we are becoming in any moment.

Think of the power those words have,

floating on the page, in a sea of space and silence. 

Separate from other experiences of the day,

an all-too-rare room for reflection.

You can finally feel yourself there,

sitting while the warm rays of the sun

stream through the window,

along with everything that you know to be true. 

“Poetry” according to Dante,“is what is true,

said in ways that are beautiful.”

Rather than dressing up the sadness

and the suffering we witness in the world,

a poem is an avenue to seeing more clearly,

to feeling the depth of what it means to be human. 

And in that instant, if we can hold onto it—

like the scent of freshly cut grass

or bread baking or the salt of the ocean—

we are enlivened and transformed.

There is so much more that is possible,

despite how we see the odds and what we tell ourselves. 

When we create new  ways of seeing,

and of saying, we are crafting a new world,

not one given to us

but born of our own creativity,

a forest in which we can lose ourselves

and breathe in the sweet green summer air.

June 2006