Why I Write Poetry: Sarah Richards

In 2017, I started a “Why I Write Poetry” series of guest posts. I’ve already received so many, and I hope they keep coming in (details on how to contribute below). Today’s “Why I Write Poetry” post comes from Sarah Richards who writes, “It is everything life is about: Understanding ourselves, others, and the world around us.”

Sarah Richards lives in Pensacola, Florida (aka L.A., or Lower Alabama). She is a double major at a local community college, where she is Editor-in-Chief of the student newspaper, as well as a student editor of the school’s annual literary arts journal. She looks forward to going to University, double majoring in anything that doesn’t require formulas or calculators. She has been published with The Saturday Evening Post and in Bella Grace magazine. She writes poetry daily, posting some of it on her blog at sarahleastories.com and her Instagram account, sarahleastories.

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Why I Write Poetry: Sarah Richards

Sarah Richards

My earliest poetry memories are of my dad, reading colorful, loose-leaf sheets of Mother Goose or Eugene Field. It was always the classics with him—Robert Frost and Edgar Allan Poe in my later years. By the time I reached adolescence, I was reading longer forms, and so that is what I wrote.

Then, a few years ago, a friend alerted me to the Poem-a-Day challenge on Writer’s Digest, for which we ended up on a local television broadcast to discuss our participation.

A couple months later, I discovered the weekly Wednesday prompts, and have been doing them ever since (in addition to the twice a year PAD challenges). Poetry made it easy to blog regularly because it flowed from my fingers more naturally than short stories did, with all “he saids” and “she saids.” For me, poetry was play; it was short stories that were work.

When writing a short story, I lose myself, but through writing poetry, I find myself again. I often write poems to document my history—as a legacy to my daughter—so that she knows who I was beyond what I was to her. Poetry is a polished form of journaling, of chronicling my life in a way that honors my memory, even as I have used this form to honor the memories of others.

Consuming poetry is a different experience, as well. When I’ve read a novel written by someone else, I connect with the characters, but when I’ve listened to a poem by the one who wrote it, I connect with that poet, because it’s not about the plot, but rather, about the way their words made me feel. That’s why music is so powerful, except there isn’t the melody that tells you how to feel. Poetry is more interpretative that way.

What’s more, poetry has helped me process the death of an old boyfriend and the unexpected death of my mother. It has helped me create a book of memories for my daughter, for you can’t capture everything with the camera, and an experience can be made richer when writing about it retrospectively.

Reading my poems aloud has helped me overcome my fear of public speaking; writing it has helped me become a better writer all around. Reworking my novel in verse form has made it a better book, for it helped me focus on the finer details.

Poetry has brought others into my life I wouldn’t have met otherwise—those who are different from myself, but with whom I’ve connected through this medium (pardon the pun).

It is everything life is about: Understanding ourselves, others, and the world around us.

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If you’d like to share why you write poetry, please send an e-mail to robert.brewer@fwmedia.com with a 300-500 word personal essay that shares why you write poetry. It can be serious, happy, sad, silly–whatever poetry means for you. And be sure to include your preferred bio (50-100 words) and head shot. If I like what you send, I’ll include it as a future guest post on the blog.

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6 thoughts on “Why I Write Poetry: Sarah Richards

  1. SarahLeaSales

    Maria Elena, I had forgotten about the comments section of this and just remembered today! I am so glad I did! And I very much appreciate the share. 🙂 And yes, I do have a Facebook page. I actually just figured out how to post the link to it on my blog (since Facebook no longer allows WordPress to automatically post to my account).

  2. tripoet

    Dear Sarah,

    This is a beautiful essay on Poetry. I teach a small class of adults and I will share your beautiful words with them. Thank you.

    I love it when I read a piece that has put into words something I am feeling but hadn’t quite known how to express. Your essay did this for me.

    I think that your daughter is very lucky to have you. I have an amazing friend who is a young mother and gifted poet and lives in Uruguay. She also strives to bring her young daughter to Poetry. Does a heart good to hear.

    Blessings, Annie

  3. Marie Elena

    Wow. I can relate to nearly every thought expressed here. But this? Oh this…

    “When writing a short story, I lose myself, but through writing poetry, I find myself again. I often write poems to document my history—as a legacy to my daughter—so that she knows who I was beyond what I was to her. Poetry is a polished form of journaling, of chronicling my life in a way that honors my memory, even as I have used this form to honor the memories of others.”

    Yes, yes, yes. Thank you for helping us connect to you, Sarah! Sharing this on FB. Are you out there?

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