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  • Gabriella Christenson

A Poetic Legacy

The first time a poem came together for me, the words working with me rather than against me, the feeling of success and fulfillment confirmed that I am a poet. I struggled my whole life with getting words together in the way I wanted them to, so to know I had that superpower within me my whole life to express things I previously believed to be indescribable through imagery and poetic devices changed my life. I began carrying myself with more confidence and stopped invalidating my personal truths and experiences. This not only allowed my true voice to come out and helped me confront things I’d run from my whole life, but also allowed my peers and friends to be affected by my work as well.

Élan has provided me the room to share my passion for poetry to a wider audience. I no longer feel like I’m loving poetry in a vacuum. I had the opportunity to visit the creative writing club of Kirby-Smith Middle School to help with workshops, and each visit, I saw the two girls I worked with most light up when I entered the room, invite me over, eagerly show me their newest work and revisions. Their enthusiasm is genuinely a reason for me to continue living and writing even when I feel discouraged. The beneficial relationship I built with the girls is mutual- I helped them with poetry, hopefully fostering a deeper love or appreciation for words within them, and they gave me hope for the future of writing and Élan. Being the poetry editor has enabled me to reach out to so many people and make poetry more accessible through workshops and class visits throughout the school year, and I want to leave behind this legacy of connection.

Through creating poem-in-a-pocket handouts for Artwalk booths and book festivals and leading the creation of the National Poetry Month reading at the 5 & Dime, I’ve extended my passion for poetry to others to build Élan’s presence in the local writing community. Hearing people discussing the poems performed at the 5 & Dime, hearing the small gasps and approving grunts amongst a silent attentive audience in response to powerful imagery and language means the world to me. Seeing people’s faces light up as I talk about poetry with them amongst a crowd of people at events like Artwalk affirms that I am fulfilling my role as poetry editor and planting my legacy of interaction and passion behind in those I’ve reached out to. As Élan grows and evolves, I hope my love for the craft of poetry is carried on through National Poetry Month events and workshops and class visitations. One cannot create in a vacuum, and one cannot exist in a vacuum. Poetry has the power to connect and resonate with people so it needs to be shared and talked about. Future poetry editors will hopefully consider this with everything they do so they can maximize poetry’s impact through their passion.

- Gabriella Christenson, Poetry Editor


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