To the Stage

(February 2015)

From the pen to the page

to the stage.

I thank you

as I grace this stage.

I am used to writing on pages

but have barely been on a stage

which is why I brought these pages

in case I forget my own words

under the pressure of performing

on a stage.

I write what’s in my heart,

write it on a page

then leave it unseen,

unheard.

I write what’s in my heart

and once I start

I don’t stop until I’ve said

what it is that I need to say.

Is my language “poetic”?

What is “poetic”?

Do I have to worry about

sonnets, sestinas, villainelles

odes, haikus, glosas or ghazals?

Do I have to worry about

iambic pentameter,

and clever rhymes,

anaphora, allusion, apostrophe, acrostic, alliteration,

metaphor, simile,

juxtaposition,

zeugma, caesura,

ekphrasis,

end-stopped lines

or lines that run over

into the next line

I know that there is a term

for lines that run over into the next lines

but I can’t remember it

right now.

Is that a bad thing?

Do I cease to be a poet

when I can’t remember

the terms used to describe

the poetry that I write?

Hey, remember Kenneth Goldsmith?

Is Kenneth Goldsmith a poet

when he transcribes weather reports?

I don’t know what others will say,

but whatever they say

can be ignored.

I write what I write

the way I write it

because I want to write.

I write for myself

and not for other people,

because the moment that

I try to write for others,

and according to their rules,

is the moment that I

lose my ability to write.

So what is poetry?

My teacher called it

“the artificial refinement of natural speech”

but how artificial is my language

when it’s coming straight from my heart?

Can poetry only be called poetry

when it’s edited?

Coleridge called it

“the best words in their best order”

Perhaps he is right,

but who gets to determine

which words are best?

Who gets to determine

and which order is best?

I don’t like these definitions,

but Wordsworth,

Wordsworth called poetry

“the spontaneous overflow

of powerful feelings”

And I agree.

I write because I have feelings

that need to be expressed,

and I write this

down with my pen on a page.

I went to a poetry slam,

felt inspired,

wrote this poem,

and now I share it

on this stage.

I have barely ever performed on a stage,

so I thank you

for welcoming me

to this stage

to speak the words

I wrote with a pen

on a page.

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