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Why Poetry Matters

Maria Popova publisher of The Marginalian describes the poem, "Ars Poetica #100", as -

the most beautiful meditation on poetry’s role in human life ever committed to words.

What do you think?


by Elizabeth Alexander

Poetry, I tell my students, is idiosyncratic. Poetry

is where we are ourselves (though Sterling Brown said

“Every ‘I’ is a dramatic ‘I'”), digging in the clam flats

for the shell that snaps, emptying the proverbial pocketbook.

Poetry is what you find in the dirt in the corner,

overhear on the bus, God in the details, the only way

to get from here to there. Poetry (and now my voice is rising)

is not all love, love, love, and I’m sorry the dog died.

Poetry (here I hear myself loudest) is the human voice,

and are we not of interest to each other?

- The Film"Ars Poetica #100: I Believe" by Elizabeth Alexander is part of On Being's “Poetry Films” series, which features animated interpretations of beloved poems.

- Elizabeth Alexander is only the fourth poet in history to read at a U.S. presidential inauguration.

- Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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