I never had a revelation that completely hoodwinked me into poetry — my parents were more Bob Dylan than Anne Bradstreet, though I did try to read all of the Complete Keats and T.S. Eliot’s the Waste Land at once and you can guess how well that went. Still, I liked to dig at, and sit with what I didn’t yet know. This created space for a few formative moments to solidify poetry as a quiet constant in my life, especially as I left the comfortably familiarity of my youth what’s now some years ago.
Snapshot #1: Robert Hayden’s Those Winter Sundays. Though at 17, I didn’t completely understand the rift of animosity I was living in, I knew exactly what love’s austere and lonely offices looked like.
Snapshot #2: Crouching in the sub-basement of my (haunted) high school, reading Prufrock with my English class. I was overwhelmed by the unassuming solidarity of unpacking what it meant to tell someone that’s not what you meant, at all. Also, because understanding most of a poem that references Dante felt especially inside baseball when you hadn’t actually read Dante.
Snapshot #3: watching videos of Nate Marshall drilling through rhymes like plywood, and finally attending Louder than a Bomb. I carried the instructions out with me from the Roosevelt Auditorium Theatre like a most precious parcel: the point is not the points; the point is the poetry.
To get to Los Angeles, I went through a couple of cities and more apartments than I can count, but other writers continuously re-orient my spatial perspective. I’m humbled in a matter of lines. Su Hwang and Frank O’Hara talk to me about New York; Kevin Coval about Chicago. I think about how now, poets I’ve never met from Texas, London, and Tucson have thrown open the doors to their own labors of love, giving homes to my poems, and I’m grateful. When things are in flux, it’s nothing short of remarkable to know someone’s leaving a light on for ‘ya.
Mackenzie Moore is a writer and illustrator based in Los Angeles who
currently writes for television and podcasting. Her chapbooks are
forthcoming with Variant Lit, Lazy Adventurer, and Kelsay Books — she has poems upcoming in Rejection Lit and Versification. She believes bagels heal most wounds.