One of my very dear friends runs a poetry group at her university composed of her fellow poetry-loving, poetry-writing students and the other day she told me about how one of them brought up this point: No one can touch a poet and get away with it.
The fact is so simple and obvious that I had never thought about it. But it’s true. You literally can not touch a poet and get away with it. Because we will write about it. We write when we’re touched. We write when we’re moved. Experiences are inspiring. They’re almost more than that, they’re fuel. They’re what pushes us to write. So if you’ve ever impacted a poet or writer in any way, you can pretty much count on being written about. This is because writing helps us to understand the experience, understand how it affected us, why it affected us. Writing helps us to immortalize the experience, to give it life again once it’s passed. I honestly don’t know how people who don’t write cope with only living through something once. Because I live an experience, a feeling, a touch over and over again sometimes in multiple ways from multiple perspectives all the time. Just remembering isn’t good enough. I want to feel it again, live it, read it, be immersed in it. This goes for bad experience too; maybe I don’t want to relive them, but I do. And by doing so I better understand both the experience I had and myself. Reliving an experience by writing allows you to cope, and eventually let go. All the distress, anxiety, confusion and heartbreak are now outside of you, held prison by the words you trapped them with and tethered to the paper.
When I say “you” can’t get away without touching a poet, I really mean anyone and anything. Just like when I say “touching” I don’t just mean it in a physical way. Although many of my poems are about physical touches; the shivers they created, the sighs they induced, the scars they left, there are countless others that are inspired by things beyond the fingertips of another human being. They’re about the hot grains of sand that cling to my legs, the salty breeze whipping through my hair, the power and majesty of the ocean as it swallows me whole. They’re about the infinite feeling of looking up at an expanse of dark sky in the middle of the night with only aging pinpricks of light for companions. They’re about the fresh smell of a new book’s pages, about sunsets and sunrises, beginnings and ends, joyful laughter with friends, people who have come and gone. “You” are the boy who gave me my first kiss and the one who broke my heart. “You” are the friend who betrayed my trust and the one who laughs and cries with me. “You” are the stars in my night sky. “You” are the watercolors in my sunset. “You” are the sand beneath my feet. “You” are my favorite book’s crisp pages. “You” are boys and friends and stars and suns and beaches and lives I haven’t lived through or written about yet.
Sometimes it frustrates me that I write about everything that impacts me, even the seemingly insignificant things. I look back on my work and flip through pages and pages of pieces that were written about people who meant so much to me at the time but are nothing to me now. I already know the person I’m currently fixated on will more than likely be insignificant in a few months time. He doesn’t deserve all the words that I carefully craft and feel deeply within my heart. And yet he still fills up page after page. I scribble endlessly; in the corner margins of notebook paper at school, the notes app on my iPhone in the middle of the night, and in my trusty weathered journal. I wish I was writing about someone who cared, who mattered. But whoever that person is or will be isn’t the one currently touching me, emotionally or physically. Instead, it’s him.
I guess there’s beauty in that; that even the most insignificant things in my life can be impactful enough to write about. Or maybe it just proves they’re not as insignificant as I’d like to think. Regardless of how this turns out, at least I now have pages and pages of perfectly preserved moments, touches, experiences to flip back through and reminisce on when I find my next fixation. Because I know there will be another one. Whether it’s my love for another boy or for the sea, neither are going to get away with touching me.
– Jade Alexandra