the role of poet
I’m never sure how to respond when someone says, “Your poem made me cry.”
But I get it. I cry myself sometimes in writing certain pieces. Still, it is usually not my intention to make readers cry, but to feel, to make it more than just words on a page. To embody a heart’s screaming beats, a mind’s terrible truths, a soul’s feathery weight.
Writing about my father’s death, or anyone’s, is not new territory in poetry. It might be for me, but I am not the first, nor will I be the last to use this uncommonly ordinary
event for healing, for processing.
In fact, just the other day, I received a new book of poems I had ordered. I didn’t know anything about the book, but I was familiar with the poet’s name, and know that several poets I know are friends of hers. The book is about her mother’s death. And the poems
are beautiful, sad, visceral, real.
I was suddenly overwhelmed with the knowledge that I will probably never be a Very Important Poet. I mean to my family, some of my friends, maybe yes, but to the greater world, and especially to the relatively small yet wide poetry community, most likely no.
But then I told myself it didn’t matter. My poems are (usually) meaningful to me, to a handful of others, maybe to a group who doesn’t make poetry part of their daily lives I am the absolute best poet they’ve ever heard.
This very poem is maybe not really a poem.