Poetry Culture

Last night at my college, Dr. Eve L. Ewing held a performance and Q&A session. If you’re unfamiliar, you need to educate yourself, because she is an inspiration, super funny and relatable, brilliant and most of all, a complete and total badass. She talked with the audience about her personal journey as a teacher, a socialist, and a black female in America. And what hit closest to home for me, was when she described her feeling of what it meant to be a poet.

Dr. Ewing is the author of Electric Arches and she spoke about how to write poetry is to give permission. Poetry is a way to let yourself feel and acknowledge and most of all move on. In 2017, I published my first collection of poetry, and a part of my soul screams with appreciation when I hear success stories such as Dr. Ewing’s.

I think the society of poets is a secret one. “I’m a closet poet,” I’ve heard many times. The culture of poetry, however, is one of immense support and affirmation. Writing poetry is so emotionally vulnerable and draining that it’s hard to admit you’re succumbing to feelings, of all the wretched things in the world.

Poets can’t be afraid of their feelings though, even on the darkest nights and the longest days. Anxiety, depression, sickness, heartache, grief, and discomfort are unfortunately familiar to us, and creating anything from this pain is a miracle.

Creativity isn’t linear, it will never be the same from one day to the next. But for me, the most consistent work I have ever produced is my poetry. Teenage years are a time of growing, changing, and learning, especially from mistakes and failures. And even though there are pieces of me that are still hurting or broken or paranoid with trauma, I made the choice to plant flowers instead of weeds.

Project 105 (http://www.lulu.com/shop/m-rheinheimer/project-105/paperback/product-23264977.htmlwas the product of these phases, and if I had one wish as a writer and a poet, it would be to remind myself that I’m not alone. That whoever happens to flip through the pages, they know they aren’t alone.

One of the most brave and bold poets I’ve ever met, Andrea Gibson, also recently visited my campus, and in her poem The Nutritionist (http://ohandreagibson.tumblr.com/nutritionist), she says:

I have been told, sometimes, the most healing thing to do-

Is remind ourselves over and over and over

Other people feel this too”

wheat girl

Therefore, in closing about this matter of poetry, I wanted to share the opening poem of my book. The title is Rebuilt.

“I can’t wait to write the words

that have bubbled and streamed through me

for eighteen years

they have been building up

higher and higher

screaming to escape

when they were torn down

letter by letter

striped away every last

page

period

comma

syllable

i thought my story was over

but the light came

a child hiding beneath a blanket

at 1:03 am

clutching a battery powered flashlight

reading each

and every word

again and again

the words came back

as the light swept over

my empty soul

and filled the book

with more chapters than ever before

I can’t wait for you to read the words

that have been

broken down

stripped apart

cracked at the seams

for they have been

reconstructed

recreated

and resurrected

to form my eighteen years of existence.”

Sometimes sharing poetry is scary because expressing vulnerability is scary. But you know what?

So is loving, and so is writing, and so is existing.

And fear isn’t going to stop me from doing all of the above.

With love,

Madeleine Rheinheimer

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