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by Catherine Owen

It’s awkward being a poet. I don’t particularly like telling people I am one. Not out of shame, the humiliation of poetry’s association with poverty, incomprehensibility, weirdness, stereotypes of pompous, beret-sporting beatniks. As though one is archaic, irrelevant, absurd. Though that is terribly annoying, these instant, ridiculous connections I feel clicking in people’s minds when they hear the word “poet.” No, it’s because the pursuit of the music of language is too beautiful to me to reduce it to one word that communicates so little to others. Due to the brainwashing of the educational system, society, their families. If I call myself “writer,” it’s easier but then the inevitable question is “what do you write?” and the answer is, obviously, beyond all else, poetry. And then the nervous, shifty-eyes, escapee feeling begins. One of my publishers and I were talking the other day about this instant detachment and judgment people can feel upon simply hearing the word “poetry.” As if – “it doesn’t apply to me, don’t read the stuff, don’t get it, it’s boring.” So we thought the art form should be renamed. We will now call poetry “red truck” and see how that changes people’s perceptions. And poets will be “drivers.” Silly, I know, but it just gets so wearying. I am a poet. A word-musician. Someone who loves the fuck out of language. And I seem to be invisible, mute, floating through the world, making my opaque sacred things for the dark.