I’ve always had a fascination with words-the way they can be twisted like screws or pirouette as if at a ballet, the way they can tango with one another or circle one another, the way they can mean anything depending on the way the tongue and lips wrap around them.
I love nothing more than to manipulate meanings and stitch words together to create something beautiful. I’ve written at least two haikus a day for the past two years, all scrawled on the corners of receipts, napkins, or textbook pages (always lightly in pencil so they can be erased) before I endearingly copy them into my prized possession-a leather-bound journal that smells of ink and the used bookstore I purchased it from. I find myself speaking in verse, wondering how I can organize my hurricane mind into seventeen syllables, written in three units of 5-7-5. After all, anything that can be written in seventeen syllables cannot defeat me.
My first slam poetry piece was entitled “Casserole” and asked why, when grief has stolen someone away, people look to casseroles to calm their catastrophic state of existence. The words were arranged into a recipe. What followed was a love affair with this new means of communication-my poems have been fire and ice and everything in between, but they have always been honest. Turns out there is nothing more exhilarating than an open-heart surgery on a stage in front of hundreds of gasping, finger-snapping poetry enthusiasts.
Words are what I do. Because of this, the first thing I notice when meeting someone is not how strong their handshake is or what color their eyes are, but rather the strength and pigmentation of their words. Do the syllables whirl or thunder out of their mouths? Do they carefully select the word that honestly indicates their state of being, or do they instead value convenience and choose the first word that volunteers itself? Do their words caress or crush the air around them?
I want those I meet to know that I see everything they say lilting in the space between us. I see the way their mouths change depending on whether they’re saying something rehearsed or spontaneous. I want them to know why I speak the way I do-thoughtfully and thankfully choosing words that cannot disguise themselves to be anything other than who I am and what I feel. I want them to know that I may be rearranging their words to fit into the seventeen-syllable mold of a haiku or to suit the sincerity of slam poetry.
Instead, I smile and introduce myself, silently listening and watching the words whirl around me.