—from 2021 Rattle Young Poets Anthology
Why do you like to write poetry?
Natalia Chepel: “When I was nine, my family lived in Croatia for two months. It was intended to be a permanent move, but of course things didn’t quite work out, so my memory of it is more like an extended vacation—it was so sunny every single day, and we lay on the beach eating frozen yogurt with gummy bears on top. I think that’s the greatest I’ve ever felt in my whole life. I remember this one night, I was left alone for a little bit while everyone was out on a walk, and I just sat down and wrote this poem about my sister. It was about two pages top to bottom, and every line rhymed. I just had this spontaneous feeling, like the best kind of freedom. And I remember my dad’s face while he was reading it: he was all sunshine, too. I think about that look more and more often, now, when I’m writing. The thing about poetry is that it can let you go anywhere, and let you talk to anyone. So when I write, and especially when I’m writing poetry, I imagine it’s a chance to tell my father about my life again and I’m grateful.”