Finding Poetry (& Possums)

Finding Poetry (& Possums)

Posted by Ravi Smith ’22 as part of the course “Myth and Modernity” taught in Spring 2020.

This past winter I took a poetry workshop where we read “The Art of Finding” by the poet Linda Gregg. In her short essay, Gregg explains that “poetry at its best is found rather than written.”

Certainly one can make good poems without feeling much or discovering anything new. You can produce fine poems without believing anything, but it corrodes the spirit and eventually rots the seed-corn of the heart. Writing becomes manufacturing instead of giving birth.

Linda Gregg, “The Art of Finding”

I tend to agree that writing poetry is about finding what already exists in the world instead of making something completely new. During quarantine I haven’t had the same motivation to sit down and write poetry as I did while in a class but it seems like the quiet makes it easier to find poetry than before.

This one I found after coming home from a walk. I snapped a photo of a fat possum lying comatose under our apple tree:

Plump possum paralyzed post-pilfering pears.

Another morning I jotted the lines of what would later become this verse:

Three stunning lines of poetry
In a dream. Awake
I could not recall them

Sometimes I find poetry inside something that is already written down, I just have to extract the poem and label it as such. When I was using Google Translate on Thai prose, this poem was inside the blunt translation:

In front of other people
This is the feeling of who we are. 
It depends on our face a lot. 

And last week, I read a really intriguing fiction piece. Upon closer examination, I realized I had misread a part of it. Though I still liked my original misinterpretation:

He said your body is never yours to begin with.  He died without apologizing.  He died, and he found the strength to attend his own funeral. 

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