One Possible Manifesto: Poem Body

By Katie Naughton February 24, 2014  |  Uncategorized  |  no responses

Poems start in the body

As does anything in this life. The body is the locus where the world becomes subjective. Becomes thought of. Becomes spoken of. What do know what can we say except what has passed through our bodies?

We all have bodies.

 Each person alive is embodied. Each body has access to some shared world, but it is necessarily different access.

Feelings aren’t hallmark cards.

They aren’t romantic. The are not fluffy or precious. They aren’t easy. They are not expressible. But they are where the poems come from.

Aren’t feminine.

Unless the masculine is dead which it is not.

Are human.

Are the deep manifestations of encounter, of the masculine of the feminine, with the world.

Reside in the body.

Call it energy call it hormonal chemistry, experience and thought are felt throughout the body.

If you don’t feel the poem in your body it isn’t the true poem.

Writers are good with words. Poets are good with feeling. Don’t confuse the two. If a poem is only good words it’s a poem but it isn’t the true poem.   The true poem is any poem that is felt. There are an infinite number of true poems. If you can’t feel, that is your work first.

Your body is your place in the world.

It is where you are from. It is where you can’t ever leave. It is where when you have to go there it has to take you back.

Your body connects you to this world.

Your body is your vessel for leaving your body. It takes you to your work, your play, your people. It is your parlay. It is the point of entry for all that isn’t you.

Your body connects you to not this world.

Your body is your vessel for leaving your body. You enter spirit, the universal, the energy that is not you is not your work is not your play is not your people through your body.

Your body is before the constraints of logic.

Which are conventions of thought. There are thoughts in you that look nothing like logic. This is feeling.

Of grammar.

Which are conventions of language. There is language in you that looks nothing like grammar. This is feeling.

If you want your poems to be bigger than you go into your body.

It is where the world resides in you as thought language and feeling.

If you want your poems to be bigger than you put your body on the line

Because the world is big.

Put your body into positions of discomfort, strangeness.

 A safe body makes true but safe poems.

Allow yourself to be possessed.

By spirits, by the past, by the future, by landscape, by language. As long as you feel it.

Allow yourself to be opened.

Because the world of logic and grammar, of livelihoods and familial obligation, of sociability of politics, asks us to be closed. To be embodied in predictable ways. How can true and spontaneous feeling be predictable? How can it show its face if its face isn’t convenient? Be brave, be patient, build your strength. The world will close you but it will open you too.

Pry yourself open.

With your language. With your body. How will you know when you are? You will feel it. How do you stay open? With all your muscle and heart. It is a matter of strength, wisdom, and bravery. You will fail but never forever.

Take the world into your body.

When you are open it will pass through you like:

Put your body and the world into your poems.



Katie Naughton

Katie Naughton is a first year MFA student in poetry, where she also teaches first-year college composition. Her work has been published by Lambda Literary’s Poetry Spotlight and by Underwater New York. Before moving to Fort Collins, she taught English as a foreign language in Chiang Rai, Thailand through the Fulbright Program; prior to this, she was living and writing in Brooklyn, working as an editor and writer of science textbooks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *