Poems hatch

Poems hatch from
memory, fantasy, the
need to communicate
with the living,
the dead, the unborn.
Poems come directly out
of daily life, from
the garden, the cats,
the newspaper, the lives
of friends, quarrels,
a good or bad time
in bed, from cooking,
from writing itself,
from disasters and
nuisances, gifts and
celebrations.

They go back into
daily life: people need
them at weddings and
funerals, give them to
lovers or those they lust
for, put them up on
their refrigerators or
over their computers,
use them to teach or
exhort, to vent joy
or grief.

The world wraps itself
around a poem. It
is almost sensual,
particularly if you
work on a computer.
You can turn the poem
round and about and
upside down, dancing
with it a kind of
bolero of two snakes
twisting and coiling,
until the poem has
found its right and
proper shape.

There is something
so personal and so
impersonal at once
in the activity that it
is addictive. I may
be dealing with
my own anger,
my humiliation, my
passion, my pleasure,
but once I am working
with it in a poem,
it becomes molten
ore. It becomes “not
me.” And the being
who works with it
is not the normal,
daily me.

It has no sex,
no shame, no
ambition, no net.
It eats silence
like bread. I can’t
stay in that white-
hot place long,
but when I am in
it, there is nothing
else. All the dearness
and detritus of
ordinary living falls
away, even when that
is the stuff of the
poem. It is as
remote as if I were
an archaeologist
working with the
kitchen midden
of a four-thousand-
year-old city.

Marge Piercy

from the essay Life of Prose and Poetry: An Inspiring Combination

in Writers on Writing: Collected Essays from the New York Times, p.180

 

More found poems here