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It was the first time I took genuine interest in a poem — I'd always thought they were dry and difficult to relate to before that. I used it to audition for my first play in high school. Maya Angelou made me feel like who I was becoming — a woman — was something very special, ancient, and wonderful.

I physically remember breathing out and sitting up just a little bit taller because of her words. It is called 'Out, Out' and it is about a farm boy who accidentally cuts his hand off with a buzz saw and dies.

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It reminds us of the extraordinarily short duration of life and the related denial we must impose upon ourselves to avoid all-consuming despair. This particular poem I read when I was going through a rough, dark, teenage time and it felt like someone got how I was feeling. It was , and the context of the moment is this: How the hell do I write about hair, my hair? I was a MFA student, working in the jazz library on campus, and at the time I wanted the first section of my thesis to be about hair, symbolism for so much especially personal power.

It was a powerful encounter on levels beyond language. I was blessed and bothered by this poem. Blessed by its beauty and bothered by the same as with any saving grace. Every time I read it it reminds me that the decisions that change my life the most were not always the ones that looked the most significant to anyone else. I was black as hell in the middle of the whitest winter in the whitest state I know, Wisconsin. I was feeling so othered, like being a black man was the strangest thing on the planet, but it was the only truth I knew.

Sabrina Benaim - "The Loneliest Sweet Potato"

This poem made me feel normal in its everydayness. In this poem, I was reminded that I am not an oddity, that life is as complicated as it is lovely, and just because the world around me may not know what I am, that doesn't mean that I am not whole. Shel Silverstein does this amazing thing where he takes everyday objects and makes them seemingly magical.

I loved this poem because it gave me a new perspective about the simple sidewalks outside my house and made me want to write my own stories.

Poetry Is for Everyone: PW Talks with Stephanie Burt

He perfectly captures the way I felt at the time, lying outside in the grass in a small Midwestern town 2, miles from home under an impossibly blue sky, drinking in all the beauty and the new ideas around me as fast as possible. Alfred Prufrock" by T. Alfred Prufrock' by T. Eliot even more than I felt Smith songs. The end always breaks my heart.

She gave my friend and I this poem and I hated it. I was irritated that it was seemingly twice as long as the poems given to others and annoyed that it was wasn't modern in the slightest it's about a sheep shearer for God's sake. Needless to say, my negative attitude didn't help the exercise and it took my friend and I quite a bit longer than everyone else to memorize.


  1. 12 Classic Poems Everyone Should Know;
  2. Poetry Is For Anyone and Everyone.
  3. Wicked Christianity!
  4. Open Skies (Volume Book 1).
  5. So You Want to be a Poet.

Credit to my English teacher — she stuck with us and forced us and the whole class at this point to recite what we could recall every morning. I hated her for it. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw pubservice.

New York Rights Fair. By Maya C.

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More from pw. PW's Summer Reads PW Picks: Books of the Week. Children's Announcements. Stay ahead with Tip Sheet! Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more. Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers. There is a structure. That poet chose to break a line here or add a stanza. To punctuate or not punctuate. In Long Way Down there are a few poems that are structured, structured poems. One of them has a tight rhyme scheme.

But I put it in there because I think poetry is all the things. JB: When I spoke with Jesmyn Ward , she found when she taught undergraduates that everyone was versed in the classics in the academic atmosphere. JR: And Ocean Vuong. For sure.

Poetry for everyone – the hands up project

I mean these people are killing it. They are reframing what poetry is. Baraka wrote pow pow pow. He wrote onomatopoeia in poems that he took from comic books as a kid. He was inspired by that. And I think what does it mean to be able to write pow pow pow? Well, I think 40 years later you get Danez Smith. You get people who have a certain level of irreverence, a fearlessness. JB: I also think about the stories that poetry tells.

What would you tell the person who writes prose to get them into poetry? JR: That comes from the classics. It comes from the over-intellectualization of poetry from the classics. Support Electric Lit: Become a Member! But I think that the poet has always been seen as the intellect of the literary community. The poets were supposed to be the scribes of all the things. The poets were the leaders of the literary community for a very, very long time.