Why do you write poetry? – Libby Hart

I asked a bunch of poets the above question in order to revive an old regular feature from this blog. I’ll post their answers until I run out or get distracted…

Libby Hart says:

“I often say that I didn’t choose poetry, it chose me. I’m not really sure why it decided to tap me on the shoulder. There have been moments in my life when I really wish I knew the answer to that question, but each time I ask it I come up empty-handed.

I came to writing poetry later than most poets I know. Yes, I wrote the obligatory angst-ridden poems in my teens yet I didn’t take up writing poems again until I was in my mid-twenties and I did not take it as seriously as I do now until I was in my early to mid-thirties.

All I know about poetry is that it hovered around me like a longing before I began writing it. I couldn’t label it then but I know it was just there in the shadows waiting until I was ready. At the time I was an avid reader of poetry (and still am of course, any writer is an avid reader). But I suppose it was my own insecurities that blocked me from allowing myself to say: Yes, I could do that too.

In so many ways poetry is an apprenticeship that perhaps you never graduate from. I always love reading and re-reading that story by Annie Dillard about French workers. When an apprentice gets hurt or is exhausted, the experienced workers say to him or her: It is the trade entering your body. Poetry enters the body everyday. A non-poet will call this hooey, but every poet will know what I mean. It enters you and you enter it. There is mystery and joy and heartbreak and exhaustion. Sometimes all at the same time.

I write poetry because I don’t have a choice. I write poetry because it is sanctuary. I write poetry because it gives me a voice. I write poetry because it allows me to unravel a situation, an event or a subject and make sense of it. Poetry is mystical and mysterious, and I honour it as best as I can.”

Stay tuned for more answers or submit your own for consideration to adamford [AT] labyrinth {dot} net (dot) au


Poet. Author. Beard. Husband. Dad. Four chickens. Dog. Cat. I can sometimes fix my lawnmower.

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2 comments on “Why do you write poetry? – Libby Hart
  1. […] artist, Adam Ford, recently asked me why I wrote poetry. Yesterday he included my answer on his website (also see below for those who might be […]

  2. gnunn says:

    Really enjoyed this Adam, keep them coming,

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About Adam

I'm the author of the poetry collections The Third Fruit is a Bird and Not Quite the Man for the Job, the novel Man Bites Dog and the short story collection Heroes and Civilians.
contact: adamatsya@gmail.com
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This Scarlet Spider figure makes me happy. Love that red. I finally get to play BLOBBLELAND! aka oonagh's new board game. Fairy piggy from Essie's board game. inspired by her big sister, youngest daughter has made her own board game. We are playtesting PIGGY RUN right now!
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