Why do you like to write poetry?
Angélica Borrego: “In fourth-grade English, my SAIL teacher decided that the next unit we would be doing would focus primarily on different types of poetry. To me, poetry was funny words that rhyme, spoke of dogs or feeling happy. I didn’t understand the depth that could be uncovered with a few scribbled lines on a crumpled piece of paper. So on the first day of the unit, we were all less than excited. We were given a small yellow paperback with the pages trying to free themselves from the aged binding. I don’t remember that title, just the scent of the cream-tinted pages that spoke of many years of use. She told us we’d be reading a few poems each day and talking about the meaning hidden behind pretentious synonyms and alliterations, and try to place the poem into a category. I only knew of two types of poems: those that made you giggle or those that made you crease your eyebrows in confusion. All that we read fit into the latter. We went about the monotonous task of placing poem by poem into the different categories, and I found myself hating poetry and the confusion each class brought. Sensing our indifference towards the subject, the teacher played for us a TED talk from an author whose name has long since escaped my memory about a topic I will never forget: poetry. The middle-aged man spoke of writing in a way I’d never heard, with a passion that coated each syllable that sent his words swirling through the air and settling on the minds of the impressionable children crowded around the computer screen. He said that poetry came from your soul not your heart. That true poetry didn’t need to rhyme, that standalone themes would carry our words to the tune of music. I will never forget the man whose booming voice reached through the video and shook me in my seat. Write! he pleaded, about anything and about everything, don’t hide behind rules and write freely and with raw passion. I would, that year, take his words to heart and wrote as often as I could. I filled small journals that I carried everywhere, I filled the margins of assignments with sonnets to be later copied down. It was just a TED talk, meant to inspire the class to finish the unit without interruption, but it was so much more.”