poetry, why do you write poetry?

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

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