Poetry Was Not My Dream Growing Up

Terisa Siagatonu
April 21, 2020

Poetry was not my dream growing up. But poetry is the mentor who came to me at a time when I didn’t know I needed it, and taught me how to dream. Not ‘dream’ in the sense of getting lost in a fantasy tailored to my own individual desires; ‘dream’ as in: when I use my voice or write until I reach the bone, I am now in a better, more hopeful position to believe that art has the transformative power to change things. That I’m capable of dreaming so vividly and wildly that it nurtures the truth that art can change culture, values, belief systems, people. Poetry teaches me this. Art aches for the world to know this. And I’ve been focused and purposeful because of it. I’ve always been at peace with not remembering as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up. Or how I wanted to be in the world once I was old enough to take responsibility for it. Doctor, lawyer, teacher were all things I remember saying, but never really taking the academic steps towards it as future. What I do know, though, is that I never wanted to be an artist, let alone a poet. During our poetry unit in fifth grade, I scrambled to throw together whatever the poem assignments were into a book that would count as our final grade for the unit, and in my hasty efforts to just get the assignment done, I accidentally bound the book upside down and backwards. That’s how much I cared about poetry. In the wake of a brand new year with the same climate crisis anxiety we carry, it’s poetry that helps me reckon with my indigenous Sāmoan roots as they ground not only my desire to now language climate crisis in my writing, but also my responsibility to take action on it in my life, both on and off stage. Both in the poem and with my people. Both when I create and when I organize. Download the pdf to READ ON...

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