NO TAILGATING!

Poetry is organic and individually distinct as it takes form in the mind and spirit of the “poet.” My working definition of the “poet” insists that the moment we have an experience, we have poetry. Thus, we are all filled with volumes of untapped poetry that is unique to us, and that we offer to share, spacially, with others. Poetry inhabits us, but it also allows us to in habit others. It should be clear, however, that inspiration and assimilation are two different things.

“In that instance, we plagiarize not only our poesis, but the very notion that we are poets at all; which cannot be proven or affirmed until WE have come forward—have outed our poetic selves—in our work. Beware the piggyback poet.”

—A. Roberson

Often we are “inspired” by the work, or even the poetic voice of others. We may even aspire to present our own work with the same impact or force. But it is important to remember that the voice of your poetry vehemently resists patterning and inauthentic affect. That does not mean we can’t do it, it just means that what we end up producing and presenting when we “tailgate” other poets is a watered-down version of ourselves. In the end, not only is our audience cheated out of an opportunity to experience the poet sharing their worthwhile self-hood with organic purity, but we ourselves are denied the opportunity to create space within by releasing the poem fully, on its own terms, rather than on the heels of another poets voice.


Our voices are our own intellectual property, crafted out of, and as a reflection of, the depth of our human and spiritual experiences. That cannot be taught, patterned, or forced. The practice of attempting to do so is akin to cloning, but what it produces always lacks a “core,” has no depth of substance, no tangibility, no palpable grounding center. The artist ought to aspire, as a part of their journey to fully become the artist that they already are—stuffed down in the protective area of our energies—rather than a marketable and commercial version of the all-too familiar franchise poet. Diversity is the truest gift of art to artists and artists to art. And unless we are giving all that we are without dilution or the unnecessary and impositional addition of outside authentication ; unless we see and move in the known value of who we are in our fullness to what we produce and what we have to offer to our audiences and reading publics, we are wasting time and opportunities by hijacking the end result of other people’s experiences. In that instance, we plagiarize not only our poesis, but the very notion that we are poets at all; which cannot be proven or affirmed until WE have come forward in our work. Beware the piggyback poet.

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