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I am a mommy, scribe, and middle-school English teacher. I am trying to cope with being separated from my beloved. DoUWantMore? email me: theprisonerswife@gmail.com

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so, what is it?

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 12:01 AM

what is poetry? (when enough is too much)

breaking windows
with words, grinding
rough diamonds into amethyst rocks
trying too hard
to reach inside        thoughts
sweating themselves about how deep
they pretend to be       poets
trying to bottle them as butterflies.
when enough is too much,
who can be the judge?
what is and is not       art
pretending to be God
pretending to be man
where the divine
and the blasphemous
do lunch at Sylvia’s, arguing
who is more
in touch with the people.

(c) me. circa 2003. harlem, ny.
poetry is something that many attempt to define, but rarely come close to doing. what is a poem, exactly? by definition it defies such confinements. even its strictest forms allow the poet room to play and push the envelope.

this year has been my first year teaching creative writing, and as a poet, it's been an interesting experience. teaching writing, of any kind, is a bit trying. i am a natural writer (did i just type that OUT LOUD?). i can hear things others do not. i know when a line, a sentence, an essay is right because it SOUNDS right, and that fine-tuned ear is not really easy to explain to others less familiar with the rhythm of words. this semester i've been teaching my kids about poems. all kinds of poems. yesterday, we explored limericks (they had a good time trying to write those). prior to that it was the sonnet, the tanka, and the villanelle. in working with the kids, the thing that i consistently notice is that they either LOVE writing poems, or they are completely frustrated because they "are not good at writing poems," whatever that really means. when my students hit roadblocks and start to psyche themselves out, i try to tell them to relax and not think so much. over-thinking it has been the death of many a poem for me, so i know it must be killer to them. they come to class with their preconceived notions of poetry: it MUST rhyme, it has to have short (or long) lines, it's really, really hard to write. it is my job to help set them free.

writing for me is like...breathing (or fighting, or fucking, or living, or_________). it is a means to express all the things i wished i had the courage to say to people's faces. it gives me a voice, power, agency. it affords me room to live outside of the world i see everyday. for my students, i want them to see the power they have within to create. at 13, many of them are dealing with SO many issues i never thought of back then. they need an outlet, other than older boys or their neighborhood corners. they needs this (words) more than they actually know.

as readers, what do words, and specifically poems mean to you?

April is National Poetry Month, and as a poet, i'd be remiss if i did not acknowledge & celebrate it. over the course of the next month i will share some of my favorite poems by my favorite poets, dig into my own poetry crates, and maybe write a little something new.

i encourage you
to do the same.
share with me.

8 Response to 'so, what is it?'

  1. bernice Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/04/so-what-is-it.html?showComment=1207055340000#c2497850989992537537'> Tuesday, April 01, 2008 6:09:00 AM

    In your arms

    In your arms,
    A web of security envelops

    In your arms,
    The burdens of my world ascends

    In your arms,
    There is no apprehension of accomplishment

    In your arms,
    Your fine follicles caress my soul within

    In your arms,
    My spirit is consumed of pellets of love

    In your arms,
    Our bond illuminates upon us

    In your arms,
    We are one

    @2008 Bernice Burks

    What do you think?


  2. Stephen Bess Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/04/so-what-is-it.html?showComment=1207065240000#c5755993384622655368'> Tuesday, April 01, 2008 8:54:00 AM

    Beautiful! The spoken and written word gives birth to language; Language gives birth to logic; Logic, divinely inspired, is the possibility of wisdom and understanding.


  3. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/04/so-what-is-it.html?showComment=1207070700000#c5451122302106816280'> Tuesday, April 01, 2008 10:25:00 AM

    bernice: "In your arms/
    We are one"

    oh how this relates to ME.

    beautiful poem, sis! thank you so much for stopping by & sharing. i hope you check in during the month & drop some more jewels on us!

    Bless: word. sometimes i wish i was as deep (and dope) as you. thanks for blessin us.


  4. Lovebabz Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/04/so-what-is-it.html?showComment=1207082280000#c2893275920197142025'> Tuesday, April 01, 2008 1:38:00 PM

    Sister TPW,
    I am so happy you are reminding US that is National Poerty Month. Poetry saved my life. I have Nikki Giovanni on DVD! I hope you plan on posting poems for the month! I will dig through some and post---if you are posting your poems for the month!


  5. Christina Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/04/so-what-is-it.html?showComment=1207097280000#c7959880476653360913'> Tuesday, April 01, 2008 5:48:00 PM

    "writing for me is like...breathing (or fighting, or fucking, or living, or_________)."


    You inspire me sis :)


  6. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/04/so-what-is-it.html?showComment=1207102800000#c485603066467418567'> Tuesday, April 01, 2008 7:20:00 PM

    lovebabz: i will post some of my own, and some of writers i dig as well. feel free to post yours too!

    Xtina: thank you, sis. you inspire me too!


  7. Stephen Bess Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/04/so-what-is-it.html?showComment=1207170720000#c3151755421099129504'> Wednesday, April 02, 2008 2:12:00 PM

    That's just me trying to sound like Darius Lovehall. :)


  8. Stephen Bess Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/04/so-what-is-it.html?showComment=1207170780000#c1676114696895697566'> Wednesday, April 02, 2008 2:13:00 PM

    By the way, I'm attempting to write a poem a day. I posted my second today.