What is Poetry?

By Olivia Allen

[fusion_dropcap class="fusion-content-tb-dropcap"]P[/fusion_dropcap]oetry is raw emotion, it’s what happens when you tear yourself apart and make something with the pieces. It can be clever, tragic, beautiful, grotesque, melancholy. It can be anything. I think a lot of poetry is made to be read aloud, sometimes sung. It’s full of such luscious, delicious language that it deserves to be heard. Poetry is metaphor and simile and image and sound. It’s punctuation and run on sentence and em-dash and enjambment. Poetry is analyzed and elusive. It’s categorized and set free. It’s dissected and subjective. It’s classrooms and coffee shops and scribbling in journals at midnight. It’s narrative and vague. Sacred and casual. Poetry is sensation. It’s the feeling and the image, and the experience. It’s immersion. It’s liquid. It finds its way into you, whispers up your spine, wraps around your heart, pulses in your veins.

How do you define poetry without poetry? How do you explain something that’s not created to be concrete?

My poems are very personal, reflective of what’s happening in my life at the moment. Poetry is a lot of things for me. Spirituality, venting, self exploration, art, performance, coping with life. I wrote this at some point last year, pre-covid. I cheated and tweaked a couple lines so the poem below is the tiniest bit different, but mostly the same. I was at a coffee shop that was doing a poetry open mic and I wanted to read something, but I didn’t have anything on hand so I wrote this little, anxiety fueled poem very quickly. I never even bothered titling it and I title everything.

There are days I am only okay by the sea

Something about it fixes the broken parts inside me

Once upon a time I woke at dawn

To watch the dolphins play

Now I sit in my shaky moon mind in the broken cold and draw little girls with eyes full of oceans

And red haired women made of sand, straining their eyes to find mermaids

I don’t remember what was happening in my life at the time, but I remember the sensations. I was overwhelmed with anxiety and general melancholy, my brain was not behaving. Bad mental health times are some, not all, of the times I tend to turn to poetry. It was winter, winter in Colorado so I was really cold. I felt kind of alone but kind of not in this place surrounded by people I didn’t know, but who were all full of life. I experience the specific feeling that the Olivia who wrote this did when I read it, but I have no way to put it into words. I suppose I’d have to write another poem. I think that poetry is the only way to use words to capture things you can’t put into words. Intangible things caught. Ephemeral things preserved.


January 27, 2021|Olivia's View|

About the Author: Olivia Allen

Olivia is a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder in creative writing and theater. She is an artist, actress, writer and self-proclaimed nerd.

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