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
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.
If you’d like to share why you write poetry, please send an e-mail to email@example.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.