Why I Write Poetry: Courtney O’Banion Smith

Several weeks ago, I posted about “Why I Write Poetry” and encouraged others to share their thoughts, stories, and experiences for future guest posts. I’ve already received so many, and I hope they keep coming in (details on how to contribute below). Thank you!

Today’s “Why I Write Poetry” post comes from Courtney O’Banion Smith, who decided to forego a personal essay and make a list instead. It’s all good.

Courtney O’Banion Smith has taught literature and writing in some capacity for over a decade. She has worked on the board of several literary journals and organizations, and her work has been reviewed and published in several journals, anthologies, and online. She lives in Houston with her husband and two sons.


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Why I Write Poetry: Courtney O’Banion Smith

Courtney O’Banion Smith

40 Reasons Why I Write Poetry

1.      Because I have a short attention span.

2.      Because I need evidence that I do, indeed, see things differently.

3.      Because witness.

4.      Because the world is a messed up, fallen, crazy, broken place (see #3).

5.      Because only poetry can make any sort of accurate sense of the world (see #4).

6.      Because pain must amount to something (see #5).

7.      Because beauty.

8.      Because majestic and miraculous.

9.      Because truth, but more importantly, Truth.

10.   Because properly fabricated lies can reveal the Truth (see #4 and 6).

11.   Because words fail.

12.   Because Homer, Virgil, Basho, Issa, Buson, Danté, Shakespeare, Milton, Donne, Browning, Whitman, Dickinson, Byron, Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Yeats, Hopkins, Masters, Eliot, Frost, Williams, Cummings, Olson, Plath, Sexton, Lowell, Berryman, Auden, Hughes, Creeley, Corso, Merwin, Smith, Warren, Ammons, Brooks, Bly, Heaney, Milosz, Ashbery, Oliver, Komunyakaa, Olds, Glück, Hirshfield, Hass, Pinsky, Carson, Forché, Eady, Strand, Hoagland, Doty, Rogers, Collins, Nye, and

13.   Because family.

14.   Because we think we need a stage to matter.

15.   Because I can.

16.   Because I must.

17.   Because Mother Goose.

18.   Because of iambic pentameter.

19.   Because the length of a breath (see 18).

20.   Because I need approval.

21.   Because I just want to get it right.

22.   Because physics, metaphysics, and food for the soul.

23.   Because the first social media.

24.   Because hashtag poetry (#23).

25.   Because I can’t sleep.

26.   Because pay attention to me (see #14).

27.   Because the world needs it.

28.   Because in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

29.   Because chaos becomes order becomes chaos becomes order infinitely.

30.   Because being clever and conquering a challenge feel good.

31.   Because control (see #4, 5, 6, 21, and 26).

32.   Because insanity is a strange fire that must spread to be extinguished.

33.   Because punctuation, capitalization, and spacing matter.

34.   Because what’s left unsaid can be just as important.

35.   Because the cursor must feed.

36.   Because white space.

37.   Because the best way to get to the essence of a thing is to say it’s something else (See #2, 3, 5, 11, and 21).

38.   Because of heartbreak, heartache, and loss.

39.   Because of love.

40.   Because of you.

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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