The Poetry Question

Discovering the Relevance of Words

THE POWER OF POETRY #8: “THE SUPER POWERS OF POETRY” – JESSICA HELEN LOPEZ

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The Super Powers of Poetry

– Jessica Helen Lopez
Listen here. When I write poetry I take on an extraordinary ability to warp, utterly break, and then mend again the rules of physics. Teacups may melt in the cabinets of my kitchen and my braided hair is able to drip with sadness. Or vengeance if the mood is right. My tongue is forked and I code-switch between languages like a border crosser. When I write poetry I can be all genders. I am ancient and new. I am everything and anything I want to be. I am infinite and limitless. This is the sheer power of writing poetry. I can personify inanimate objects and make the room come alive with seething coffee pots, the chattering teeth of forks, or the humble potted succulents who blush in the cheeks like a group of shy schoolgirls. Poetry, of all written and spoken literary genres, is most precious to me. And absolutely most important. Without it I could not make sense of the world around me, therefore, survive in the worlds I inhabit. Poetry allows me to bend time and revisit memories of past traumas. It allows me to grapple with the issues of my personal past; face the half-hidden shadows and skeletons that live in the crevices of the familial closet. Through poetry I can slay dragons, or in the very least, on certain occasions make peace with the ghosts in my life.

Listen closely. These are not the only reasons poetry matters and that I am compelled to write poetry. To tinker with metaphor and explore personification or diction is a matter of craft. Craft is a transmutable tool to help express the voice of the writer, even when that voice is hidden from the writer herself and can only be sussed out through the actual practice of writing. No, I also write because I must. As a young girl the call to read and read profusely happened early and with a vengeance. I read everything. I read the newspaper, the backs of cereal boxes, road signs, the chemical concoctions written on shampoo labels, and of course, library books. Masses and masses of library books. I didn’t set out to be a writer, and definitely never to be a poet. It just happened and it made all the difference. To read poems and to write poems is a happy habit to cultivate. Poetry is not all about sadness or fatality. It is not always political or confessional. It is not always about cultural identity or historical trauma. It is not always THIS or always THAT. It can be anything it wants to be, because ultimately, IT IS a meditation. It is the focused written breath by a person who has stopped to recognize that it must be captured, bottled for safekeeping in order to relay that specific time in life that speaks to a collective, but also personally unique, human experience. Any medium of art or communication that calls, no demands, that you slow down and truly in habit the moment is a powerful and necessary one. The reading of, listening of, and writing of poetry does just that. So, you see, through poetry one is able to slow time, bend and mold it like taffy. Through this act the boundaries of reality and physics are contorted. Poetry is a super power. It is beyond the five senses. Poetry is the portal through which anything can happen. And it usually does.

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 Take a look at The Poetry Question review of Cunt. Bomb., and purchase your copy from Swimming with Elephants. 

About Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin spent more than a decade in Education as a high school English teacher, and is now an Instructional Coach for the Longview School District. He is also the founder of The Poetry Question, an online journal which focuses on reviews of small press poetry publications, and runs a regular series called "The Power of Poetry," where notable poets share their personal stories of how poetry has affected their lives. Margolin resides in Vancouver, Washington with his wife, and daughter.

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