- It makes you feel powerful.
“and he said: you pretty full of yourself ain’t chu //
so she replied: show me someone not full of herself
and i’ll show you a hungry person” (Giovanni 19-21).
Knowing you’ve captured an image or a moment in words is just like a PR — you know you’ve just done something special, difficult, and new, and you want to tell everybody about that surge of power that just ran through you. Hence all the social media posts about achieving writing mileposts and CrossFit goals. Just so you know, not only did I finish a poem I’ve been working on for a few weeks today, but I also actually jumped on all my box jumps. No step-ups.
- You hope other people will notice, but you’re doing it for yourself first.
“To gain your own voice, forget about having it heard. Become a saint of your own province and your own consciousness” (Ginsberg).
So it’s been six months since your last acceptance. So what? You will either sit down and write more and write better, or you won’t. You’ll either grab that jumprope and try to master double-unders or you won’t. I’m betting you will.
- It’s a challenge, and you’re up for it.
“I once told somebody that writing a sestina was rather like riding downhill on a bicycle and having the pedals push your feet. I wanted my feet to be pushed into places they wouldn’t normally have taken” (Ashbery qtd. in Guthrie).
Sestinas are a challenge. Six end words. Six stanzas. An envoi. A complicated rotating pattern. Sounds like the “Bear Complex” WOD to me.
- You don’t have to be good at it to be a part of the club.
“Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things” (Oliver 14-18).
Go to an open mic or a poetry reading or a poetry workshop. You’ll see. It’s just like being in a CrossFit box. Whether you’re Rx or scaled, let’s get it!
- It lays you bare. (You look better naked.)
“We live so often in a damped-down condition, obscured from ourselves and others. The sequesters are social—convention, politeness—and personal: timidity, self-fear or self-blindness, fatigue. To step into a poem is to agree to risk. Writing takes down all protections, to see what steps forward” (Hirshfield).
Ok, ok. Poetry might not make you look better naked (although a well-chosen, well-timed recitation probably wouldn’t hurt), but it does strip you down. Writing and reading poetry gets at the core, at the human center. CrossFit will eventually help you look and feel better, and, let me tell you, after a WOD involving wall-balls, calorie rows, sit-ups, and burpees, you’ll feel closer to every single athlete in that box. There are no societal masks when you’re writing your heart out or when you’re on your back on the chalk-spattered floor gasping for air.
Giovanni, Nikki. “Poem For A Lady Whose Voice I Like.” Poetry Foundation. 2015. Web. 12 March 2015.
Guthrie, Camille. “Why Write Sestinas?” Poetry Foundation. 16 April 2013. Web. 12 March 2015.
Hirshfield, Jane. “Why Write Poetry?” Psychology Today. 6 Jan. 2014. Web. 12 March 2015.
Oliver, Mary. “Wild Geese.” Poemhunter.com 2015. Web. 12 March 2015.