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‘Poetry takes only a mind looking for answers’

Poetry is first and foremost a connection between oneself and their world. Poetry, now more than ever, is incredibly important. It is vital to our understanding of our existence.

When I read or write poetry, the sound around me is turned off. I become an igloo, a bubble, no one can reach me there. I am wholly myself. It is an understatement to acknowledge that we are lucky to have the human experience.

Poetry is a thank you card to this life. I did not know life could be beautiful until poetry opened my eyes. Even in the catastrophe of grief, poetry lights a cobbled path of hope.

As the world assimilates, it is important to make space for culture and art. Today, poetry is a historical record and an active recollection of diversity. No individual is alike and, therefore, no poem is alike, each is its own story of the artist’s cultural environment and experience. Across time, across cultures, across continents, poetry is nothing if not diverse.

From the first haiku in Japan, written in the 13th century, to the first female poet published in 1650 to the first Black poet laureate in 1993 to Durango’s first poet laureate position opening in 2024. Poetry is relevant in every corner of the world, it is accessible and takes only a mind looking for answers.

Additionally, this time period is angry. We are fighting for social justice and equality, we are witnessing death in unexplainable numbers, and we are losing rights. In order to save ourselves from the monsters we are trying to fight, we must express anger through art. Our punches should be poems. To me, poetry is a platform for every wrong this world has done me.

There is something powerful in choosing to fight a battle with soft words. Poetry makes Gandhis and Mandelas of us all. Poetry is choosing love over violence. Poetry is the Earth telling you truths. Poetry cures ailments in our minds. Poetry speaks for the heart not the hands.

I want to witness peace in my lifetime; I want my children to see it; I want my ancestors’ trials to have been worth it. And poetry is the fuse to the fire that can burn the failures of this world.

As a teenager, I and most of the people around me are constantly fighting to find ourselves. We are in the period of our lives in which we begin defining ourselves and the traits that will become us.

It is incredibly difficult to understand what oneself is feeling or needing at a certain time, and even harder to voice it. Investing in poetry is like turning a light on, suddenly all those emotions are right in front of you under a spotlight. Social media, societal norms, and friend and family influence are all telling us different versions of how we’re supposed to live, who we’re supposed to be.

The quiet of poetry allows people to be loud about who they are without the boundaries the world is marking around them. I believe if the youth engage with creative writing, they will bring an entirely new era of becoming. An era that harbors peace and surrenders only to itself. An era of knowing, in which nothing will be torn to pieces over internal battles.

I choose poetry as my weapon; I choose it as my mother; I choose it as my mirror. It belongs to me, but it also, most importantly, belongs to you.

May it be a muse on the trip to tomorrow.

Zoe Golden, a junior at Durango High School, is the Rising Poet Laureate for 2024.