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Poetics: Charisse Paderna

Poetics: Charisse Paderna

Honoring Identities: Why and How I Write Poetry


For many poets, the commitment to writing poetry begins with a sure and eager appreciation of expression. That appreciation may be in the reception of another’s work—as when one discovers the work of a talented poet, an experience that compels many to produce work of the same caliber (whether that attempt is successful is another question)—or in the more personal, visceral desire for artful expression: “I have something to say, and I would like to say it beautifully.”

Writing poetry began in this fashion for me. I started writing poems in 2001, after I discovered poetry through an introductory course in university. I was a sophomore then, and had almost no knowledge of the genre. Previously, the closest I came to approaching poetry was in an English class in high school, where a standard-issue textbook presented a Robert Frost poem, “Mending Wall”. Little was done with the poem besides reading it aloud in class. Our teacher fed us an interpretation: the poem was not literally about mending walls, she said. It was about building and repairing relationships, and that was that. We answered as much when the question was asked in subsequent exercises:

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