The adage says prose is meant to be heard and poetry is meant to be overheard. Every poet allows us to eavesdrop on the experience of experiencing. Good poems evoke emotion and give us a door to our feelings through a window on another’s. 

Voices In Verse, a new feature at Women’s Voices for Change, will present the many portals penned by many different kinds of women in their transformative years. 

It is a pleasure to inaugurate this feature with a poem by one of America’s strongest voices, that of Elizabeth Alexander. Ms. Alexander received her B.A. from Yale University, her M.A. from Boston University and her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Her collection entitled "American Sublime" was a 2006 Pulitzer Prize finalist. She is a professor at Yale and lives in New Haven, Conn.

Click the "continue reading" link below to view Ms. Alexander’s "Ars Poetica 100: I Believe."

Ars Poetica #100: I Believe

Poetry, I tell my students,
is idiosyncratic. Poetry

is where we are ourselves,
(though Sterling Brown said

"Every ‘I’ is a dramatic ‘I’")
digging in the clam flats

for the shell that snaps,
emptying the proverbial pocketbook.

Poetry is what you find
in the dirt in the corner,

overhear on the bus, God
in the details, the only way

to get from here to there.
Poetry (and now my voice is rising)

is not all love, love, love,
and I’m sorry the dog died.

Poetry (here I hear myself loudest)
is the human voice,

and are we not of interest to each other?

Elizabeth Alexander

"Ars Poetica 100: I Believe"
copyright 2005 by Elizabeth Alexander.
Reprinted from "American Sublime" with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minn.

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