An Inspirational Poetry Journey for National Poetry Month

An Inspirational Poetry Journey for National Poetry Month April 28, 2024

The word poetry created by an exploding pencil.

Every April is National Poetry Month in the United States.  This is a month that is very special to me because I happen to write poetry (on and off), and I have several favorite poets I like to read.   Since this special month is coming to a close, I would like to talk about my journey with poetry and why this month especially is close to my heart.

So, how did I get into poetry?

I had written some lines and lyrics on and off as a kid.  Then one day, in 1993, on a TV show called MTV Unplugged, I watched a couple of all-poetry episodes called Spoken Word and something hit.  I fell in love with what I saw.  Readers such as Henry Rollins, Jim Carroll, and were reading words on a page in a way that was not hip-hop or rap, but something…different.

Then while tutoring a student who needed some extra help in Spanish, she told me about this local coffeeshop nearby where we went to high school that had open-mike nights.  It turns out she happened to be a poet and went there every week.  It also turns out that  the “open-mic” experience was more than poetry but music, performance and more.  After I attended that first night, I was hooked and started to listen, write, and then eventually read my own work.   I was a bit shy at first but eventually I got advice from the regulars, and made friends that I instantly connected to.

When I had to do a project in high school, I ended up creating a small chapbook and read my stories and my work talking about the environment, including a superhero based on my biology teacher that recently resurfaced in an article for the Environmental and Sustainable Committee in the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Club March Magazine.   It was not only fun, but I really turned the idea of doing a presentation/project on it’s head, and everyone absolutely loved it.

In university, the only chances I really had in doing open-mike night was at various festivals that my university alma mater put on.  However, even though I didn’t read much, I still wrote a lot.  I did have a poem published before I graduated in the Madonna Muse  literary magazine.  I thought that was a nice little mark to leave.

Open-mike performance South Korea

While living and teaching in South Korea, I met a group called the Seoul Artists Network.  This was a group of teachers, artists and other vagabonds who came together once a month to perform their works.  I, of course did my poetry and discovered really creative ways to not only write it but read it.  I even met some artists in the city of Pusan who also did open-mike poetry. During this time,  I met some amazing friends, some that I still keep in touch with and at least one who I sadly found out passed away last year.  It was here that I went into a writing frenzy with my poetry and just writing in general, finding inspiration wherever I could.  I also read a lot of different writers such as Jack Kerouac and Maya Angelou among others.  I also had a poem published through Rattapallax in celebration of the International Year of the Mountains (2002). While I did not have a chance to read my poem, I did try climbing a mountain.

Back stateside, I discovered Def Poetry Jam on HBO and instantly got hooked like I did with the MTV Unplugged episodes.  This time it was a more diverse group of writers.  At this time, I was in the middle of transitioning into a new aspect of my life.  I posted poems where I could on various chatgroups, a newsletter via AOL conversation groups, and even a Myspace blog.  At one time, I even tried publishing several books through, but had to take those down due to keeping up with costs and only being able to sell just one book.

I was starting to feel that poetry wasn’t as popular as it was and utilized my talents elsewhere.  Granted, I was writing poetry on and off, but nothing that really got published.  There were times I would read my work that I specifically wrote for special events online such as Artists for Life, but that was it.  As my life got busier, my poetry got a bit more stagnant.  The love for poetry also seemed to have hit a low in the country as well.

However, recently my drive for poetry is resurfacing again.  

I share my story with you because poetry became my voice when no one understood me.  It became my identity.  And from that I discovered my writing skills.  However, not really in academics, even though I earned a Master’s Degree in Korean Studies, but in creative writing, culture, and these days in music.  Anything related to the creativity and the arts is my genre.

With the advent of changing social philosophies and changes in presidencies, those voices that are being suppressed with various social media bans, and other First Amendment rights are rising up creatively.  It also does not hurt that the Grammy Awards now honors a Spoken Word Poetry categoryFormer President Obama and current President Biden’s inaugurations featured poets on stage who read powerful words of poetry.  These were such notables as Amanda Gorman and Richard Blanco who I tip my hat to.

What was big in the 1990s and early 2000s and come back like a fashion statement.  It might be a retro thing or just an expression thing.  However, for me, its a rediscovery thing.  It’s being able to connect with the writing community, going up on stage again for open-mike and more.  And that’s what I’ve done since the end of March.

I’ve participated in a Transgender Visibility Day Open-Mike Night I’ve sat in on Zooms of a local poetry group based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  I’ve read my poetry on-air once a week for my Saturday night show on NK Airplay Radio.  And now, I’m going to share with you one of my poems below:

This poem was written for my Power of Relationships book that I had tried to publish on

Ode to Differences

Being the original one or independent
The differences make us complete
Yet these differences divide and scare us
We are taught differences not similarities
Causing us to struggle with ourselves
Causing us to implement dialogue
Where are these things of the mind, body, and

If you are a poet, like poetry, or just write casually, I’d like to hear from you.  Who are your favorite poets?  What inspires you?  Can you identify with my journey?  Please comment below.

If you want to get to know more about me and my other articles on Patheos, please check it out here.

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