None of us are born with words in our mouth. We learn to talk first by babbling to ourselves. Second by imitating those who are close to us. Third by expressing our inner feelings and outer observations. And, if we are fortunate, by making sounds that express life. Not just our own life but the life of all sentient beings, be they human or otherwise. A bird. A fish. An amoeba. A worm. Whatever has the sense to realize it is alive.
None of us are born poets. If we are fortunate we learn to become poets. To be wordsmiths.
Langston Hughes made me want to be a poet. And like him I’ve known poets. Female. Male. Makers of words that celebrate life. Sometimes fierce. Other times tender. Life. In all its complexity.
After Langston there were countless poets I admired. A number of them brilliant as stars in the night sky–or at least, if we live in modern cities, the beauty that we used to could spy before urban light pollution spoiled the midnight illuminations piercing the dome surrounding us.
Our dull days and synthetic feelings not withstanding, even when we don’t notice the stars, don’t sense the shinning of brilliant objects millions of lightyears away from us, nevertheless, there are poets who are able to turn words into starlight, who by the way their tongues shape sounds, they teach us to be fully human. Not simply by making mundane noise we call speech, but by finding and putting together words that express the deeptitude of our humanity, that express the best of us, the beauty of our being; words that help us be more than mere things articulating random sounds.
Nikky Finney is a poet. Tall. Proud. Fierce. Female. A poet. Someone who makes words that are more than mere sounds. Words that remind us, and inspire us, to be fully human.
Oh what a joy it is, to listen to a poet Black and hear her sing!