I fell in love with poetry the way a lot of teenagers fall in love with poetry, I stumbled across the Button Poetry YouTube channel and spent an entire day just consuming poetry—real poetry, loud, animated, alive, and so totally unlike anything I had ever considered a poem to be before. Poems were those things that rhymed and collected dust in old books. They weren’t something that could make you feel anything and they certainly didn’t have the ability to speak to my life in any way. But what I found in these three-minute videos was the exact opposite. I found in them my experiences, my emotions, but I also found windows into the experiences of others, glimpses into worlds I had never known even existed.
So, naturally, I began copying what I found in those videos and as I watched more and read more, my poems got better and eventually, I stopped purely imitating poems I loved and my own voice began to appear in my writing. For me, that’s one of the greatest lessons writing has given me: allowing me to truly discover who I was and who I wanted to be.
In the performances of the poets who had taught me to love language, I also found a love for the performances themselves, the way they embodied a poet, made it come to life. I did speech and acting events, I starred in plays, I bombed at poetry open mics. Any chance I could get to have my voice heard, I took it.
As high school ended, I left my home in small-town Kansas to attend Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas where I’m currently pursuing degrees in Creative Writing and Performance Studies, relishing in the opportunity to dive deep into the subjects I loved the most.
At Hendrix, I joined the staff of the Aonian, the school’s student literary journal and hosted a poetry review radio show where I got to sit down with a friend and share poems that I loved. I work on the committee for Word Garden, Hendrix’s student reading series and go out of my way to soak up all of the amazing student writing generated by my peers and to hear all of the visiting authors Hendrix brings. I’ve even cut class to hear poets read.
Even now, though my tastes have broadened and changed over time, I love reading and writing, poetry especially, for the same reason I did when I first discovered it. It makes me feel alive and it makes me feel like my being alive, my listening and feeling and loving, has some effect on the world around me. It’s through poetry that I feel connected to everything outside of myself and attentive to everything within.
Quinn Carver Johnson was born and raised on the Kansas-Oklahoma border, but now attends Hendrix College and is pursuing degrees in Creative Writing and Performances studies. Johnson’s poetry and other writings have been published in various magazines and journals, both in-print and online, including SLANT, Nebo, Right Hand Pointing, Flint Hills Review, and Route 7 Review.
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