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Finding Poetry

I remember a moment I had no idea what I was doing in terms of my writing. I'd been reading, writing, and taking classes for years. I was in the Altadena Public Library in the L.A. area, a small branch library, an intimate space, and it seemed Sylvia Plath's collection Crossing the Water was sticking out from the stacks a little farther, beckoning.

I was captivated when I brought it home. It's not her best work; Ariel is. (In the controversy about which version of Ariel is better, I'll let you decide.) I'd read Plath before and hadn't paid much attention. Something about where I was in my life and this work resonated. It pulled me in.

It's like connecting with music, maybe something someone gave you and you listened to, thought was OK, set aside for years, then played again and thought, This is the most amazing thing. It's about the work, but also where you are in your life, and therefore what you bring when you listen. I've had this experience over and over. And it's this connection that I've kept following like the sound of a stream.

My writing doesn't resemble Plath's and unlikely ever will. But part of my desire to write comes from it. When I tried to specifically identify what about her writing worked for me, I saw revelations in it that opened a door, gave me ideas, energized me.

I still discover poets on the shelves of libraries and bookstores, discoveries I wouldn't otherwise come across.

There's lots to find in journals and online as well—including announcements of readings and spoken-word events to go to! Poetry Daily is just one resource I use to see what's out there. If a poem catches my eye, I might buy the book it's in.

Here's the link, and others I check in on: