Thankful Thursday: "I'm not a poet"

Photo by Shreyas Panambur I like poems by people who aren’t poets.

After a summer of writing workshops — both attending and leading — I am reminded that I like poetry best in small groups. I like the circle of new names. Each of us offering ourselves on the page, like a date, a gift. We are gathered in an effort to make things matter.

I'm not a writer, they'll say, before reading their work. Huddled together in hope, we lean in, eyes open to the words, to the room’s reverent hush.

I’m not a poet, they’ll say between umms and ahhhs and throat clearing. The voice shakes, a hand trembles.

When done, the reader will fix eyes on the page, and then searching, will look to us in a pause between nod and praise. A half-smile of gratitude appears, a bit of disbelief, a rush of relief.

I don’t usually remember the poem, can’t recall lines or even a passage. It's the cracked voice I know, the tremor, the space between the last word and the first applause.

Always a poem is a victory. The writer saying I am.


It's Thankful Thursday. Joy expands and contracts in direct relation to our sense of gratitude. What are you thankful for today? A person, a place, a thing? A story, a song, a poem? What makes your world expand?