A different display of utterance

Say it like it belongs.

Give it space. Don’t utter it, Say it,
So say it.

Once in an undergraduate poetry class I workshopped a poem, I think called tonguez.

What I remember most about the poem wasn’t necessarily the poem, itself, but the excitement I felt writing it.

Maybe my excitement was partly inspired by the professor who seemed open to us writing towards possibility and discovery rather than just closure, and who encouraged us to spare ourselves the fury of “saying a message” – pushing his students more towards delight, discovery and subversion.

Intrigued by what, for me, was a new kind of permission to be free, I wrote tonguez under the guidance of sheer pleasure. I opened myself to the sounds and music of the words, not pressing into sense more than I was pressing into poetry. I guess I can say I let the poem compose itself, the poem allowing me to become – and not just be – writer and witness.

Then it came time for the workshop.

And there I was,
reading the poem with far less performance – and much more control – than I had written it with.

After reading the poem I remember one of the students saying something I still think on to this day: “I wish Simone had read the poem with the power she wrote it with.”

That must’ve been 15 years ago.

Looking back I wonder.

what can be gained from restraint? from holding back? from shying away?

I like coming so close only to pull myself back.

It keeps me interested. Pressing into wonder, dwelling in possibility.

Living in the tension between walls and the words for them.

Pushback produces poetry. I have the joy of not quite saying it. I have the peace of not knowing what I want to say or how to say it because I’m still at language and being honest about its inhibitions. Understanding all I can do is suggest, hint, tease, that language is what keeps me from saying it.

I don’t know if I would’ve read the poem differently that day but I probably should’ve, especially since there was an inner voice I was following with each word. I should’ve let that inner voice speak.

Say it like it belongs.

Give it space.
Now say it.

Don’t utter,
say it so say it