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 Annie Newcomer, who I met once at the Austin International Poetry Festival and who writes, “The unexpected pleasure of writing for me has been the way a poem can resolve certain aspects of my past as well as help me to be curious for the future.”
Annie Newcomer lives in Prairie Village, Kansas with her husband, David. Her two adult daughters inspire her to tackle new adventures such as triathlons and 10 km runs. She loves to travel. Annie appreciated opportunities to see the world and to meet poets from different cultures. She loves her involvement with Compassion International where she has sponsored children from India, Peru and the Dominican Republic and coaching chess in after-school daycare programs in Kansas City.
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Why I Write Poetry: Annie Newcomer
When I was seventeen my brilliant father who I had always seen as omnipotent had an accident. Life changed for my large family in ways none of us had ever anticipated. I guess that we didn't consider that kryptonite actually existed. So at a rather young age, Life became for me a series of lessons in survival. Writing or reading poetry was unfortunately the last thing on my list. Working a string of jobs and dealing with the mundane reality of day-to-day needs occupied the full of me.
Ten years ago, I lost another incredible member of my family too soon. He was a professor at University College London, beloved by his students and his academic community. He, not I, understood and loved poetry. Since I never imagined that I would have the literary chops to pen a book, and as I remembered a very short poem by Emily Dickinson, "Because I Could Not Stop For Death," I determined that I would write a poem in my brother's honor. After all, how difficult could it be to write a simple "short" poem?
Anyone could do that, I reasoned. A hard fact I encountered was this: anyone can, indeed, write a poem but not everyone can write a "good" poem.
So now, just as I had decades ago tried to survive in a young person's world, I find myself, searching for ways to learn the craft of poetry and a longing to feel competent in the writers' world. Since I live in Kansas, I liken my experience to the famous children's story, The Wizard of Oz. I have met some wonderful poets on my yellow brick road. However, I have also bumped into the Wicked Witch of the West a time or two.
The unexpected pleasure of writing for me has been the way a poem can resolve certain aspects of my past as well as help me to be curious for the future. At the school Cristo Rey, the motto the students say each day before they began classes is "Look forward to the good that is yet to be." I think this is how I like to see poetry, a melding of my hands and mind creating words that help me to become my best self.
If you’d like to share why you write poetry, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.