POWER OF POETRY #62: ERNESTO CEPEDA

The Power of Poetry saved my life. Literally, before I finally answered my calling as a poet, I was following the path immortalized by William Blake who once famously said: “The road of excess leads to a palace of wisdom.” At the end of this journey, was where and when I finally discovered and embraced the Power of Poetry that was percolating inside of me, for all these years. This is when I realized that I needed to stop running from my fate and fear of failure and face the destiny of stanza, rhymes and climaxes waiting to be crafted before me. The amazing thing is that I quickly realized when I started focusing on putting my tribulations and trials on the page, by writing my poems I noticed immediate changes in my life.

​The Power arrived from me in the middle of a reading. When I started off in this journey I would go to San Gabriel Poetry reading in Burbank, CA. During one of those readings, I experienced a life-changing event when the words from the poem “She Pours Me with Her Eyes” 

with lines like: 

“As I awaken her 

uncorked experience, she repays

me by drinking me whole”

I remember being lost within the moment, while I was reciting this poem, that unbeknownst to me would eventually be published in my first poetry collection Flashes & Verses… Becoming Attractions almost ten years later. This was a transformational moment for me as I could feel the instant the power arrived in my mouth, within my voice and I was changed, forever. After leaving the stage, someone in the audience, a woman, came up to me after reading that verse and whispered in my ear, “that was the best poem I’ve ever heard in my life.” The Power of poetry had found me and now I was officially a poet. 

​When I tell people that I had discovered the power of poetry inside of me, some roll their eyes, but having this gift involves me looking deeper inside of me and reflecting not only the joy and climaxes but also all the pain and agony on the page. For some people, who deflect and refuses to dive deep within their own subconscious and live a life in denial, for any poet or any artist, there is power in facing all the demons and darlings that we have buried inside of us.

The power in poetry, when I am reading and sharing my work, is how I not only reconnect but also reflect in the lives of my readers and audience. I always tell poets, young and old, the personal is universal. The more blood, ache and harrowing detail you craft on the page, someone out there is going to reach out embrace your poem while saying “I thought I was the only one who felt like this.” 

The power of poetry is that it makes us feel less alone. It creates community and encourages poets of all binaries, creeds, nationalities to craft their own creations on the page. Poetry is in the lengua, the tongue, it is the individual voices and the unique language that brings the power of verse to life. I have been lucky to have been inspired by poets with such unique voices like Tianna Clark, Leila Chatti, Kaveh Akbar, Amy Shimshon-Santo, Ingrid-Calderon Collins, Joanna C. Valente, Leza Cantoral, Anna Suraez, Tianna G. Hansen, Ariel Francisco, AnaliciaSotelo, LeAnne Hunt, Kristin Garth, Lisa Marie Basile, Monica Lewis, Kai Coggin, Jenna Vélez, these poets, among others, have inspired me on and off the page. These poets and many more have shown me that there is power when exposing our own vulnerabilities within rhyme and stanzas on the page. 

As we have learned from the Marvel Universe: with great power comes responsibility and this is also true to those who write the verse. We as poets are responsible to inspire, assist, guide, advise and support other poet’s still discovering their power on and off the page. One thing I tell other writers is that it’s not all about us, the power you share makes poetry even more powerfully beautiful. The more people, readers, students and those connoisseurs embrace the art of our verse, the more it will last, expand and grow more vibrant for future generations want to read and discover the powerful magic of poetry. 

Carl Jung said it best “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” Poetry might have found me, but I had the power of the verse inside me the whole time. We need more super heroines to discover their own powerful voices on and off the page. Poetry is resistance. Poetry is political. Poetry is Seductive. An example of this is in one of my own poems, “The Sensation is the Same,” from my latest collection Between the Spine, when I evoked:

“But she is worth it when I continue

on and she ravishes me,

with her words, verses

the body of her volumes …

she shares so much,

without uttering 

a single spoken word.”

When I write erotic love poems, I craft to honor the legacy of Pablo Neruda as well as other erotic love poets like Kim Addonizio, Anne Sexton, Sharon Olds, Alexis Rhone Fancherand Amber Decker. The goal for me is to write erotic love poems that captures the spirit of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s quote when he famously said, “Poetry is a naked woman, a naked man and the distance between them. This is where my own creative voice comes in, trying to reach my reader somewhere between imagination fantasy and desire. For the verses found in my new book Between the Spine, it’s more than just writing about the act. The goal within my voice is to be the connection spark between two lovers. Before the first touch, first breath and first kiss reflects the power of the imagination and is where these poems exist. 

​It’s not just erotic poems, there is power in all poetry. Poetry is Inspiring. Once we all start discovering that The Power of Poetry is Everywhere, our world will be a more eloquent place to live with the rhymes. The hope is that we’ll beconnecting in the harmonious beauty that surrounds us all. This is the power that poetry thrives. This is where I want my poetry to live, breathe and exist on and off the page.

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