One of the joys of living in an insatiably creative city, is that I get asked about my craft more than I get asked if I want a cigarette. In such occasion, I was talking to a stranger waiting for a cab outside about writing, and he asked who my gateway poet was.
“Neruda” I said, and I proceeded to show him the text on my left wrist. It reads,
“I wheeled with the stars and my heart broke loose on the wind.”
A gateway poet is the one you discover that makes you change your mind about poetry completely. I was 15 when I discovered Neruda-working on an American poets project for English. I remember coming across the poem, “Poetry” by accident and after I read it I knew my life was completely different than it had been before. While I was familiar with poetry, (Dickinson, Whitman, Shakespeare to name a few) and had written quite a bit myself, I was shocked how profound I thought Neruda to be.
I didn’t know words could do that. I didn’t know words had the ability to empty out everything that could tarnish your heart.
From there I became feverish- writing poems every day, diving head first into poetry compilations and discovering new writers. It was like I had leveled up in a video game and now had access to this new world.
The fever never stopped either.
Poetry has become the way I relate to the world. Writing is the one thing that makes my spirit go, and I don’t think I could have gotten here without Neruda.