What is poetry?

Trabuco Canyon Morning.               Photo Credit: Catherine Keefe

“Poetry is what makes the invisible appear.”
Nathalie Sarrautefrom “Staying Alive,” 2002

ENG 204 students say, “Poetry is…

finding your voice and giving it the strength to be heard
like an abstract piece of art
a river
walking on hot coals in the rain
like grazing through a field
the brief silence between sleeping and waking
taking a walk in the rain after a long drought
half a glass; full and empty
like jumping into water
an unsung —

Poetry is wearing mismatched socks and a floppy feathered hat
everything that’s red in life
a drool stain from first screaming into your pillow
waiting for a seed to blossom
it lasts as long as you let it
like a silk scarf slipping through your fingers
the ingredients of a homemade recipe: spicy, sweet, salty, but always savory
a play action pass, at first you think it’s one thing then —

it is something else

a blissful afternoon at the lake
the note that is passed right beneath the teacher’s nose
like happening upon cave paintings
your father’s hand that guides you through a busy intersection
the teacup ride at disneyland
a volcano spewing its ash
the noise of cicada on a summer day
the giving tree that walks through every season.

About Catherine Keefe

Catherine Keefe is the founding and managing editor of *dirtcakes* a journal of poetry, creative nonfiction, art and photography. Her creative nonfiction essays, interviews and book reviews have appeared nationally. She teaches undergraduates how to Write About Literature, or Write Creative Nonfiction, or Compose Self at Chapman University in Orange, CA.
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