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.html) was 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”
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
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
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
cracked at the seams
for they have been
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.