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I Write Like I Do Because (and a very special case in point)
Written by
Beth Kephart
February 2012
Written by
Beth Kephart
February 2012

There are those who question my decision (always) to write my full heart out for teens—to go as far as I can with language, meter, idea.  To stretch, break, coalesce, pause.  "But they are teens," I'm told, which is to say, "but they are young." Which is to say, "Keep it simple."

I can't. I believe so fully in the minds and hearts of teens precisely because I teach them, I work with them, I receive their work through the mail, I know what they themselves can do and do do with language. They don't box words in. Why should I?

My case in point today is this fragment of a poem sent to me by a former neighbor, a woman who is still a dear friend and writing confidant.  My friend didn't write this poem, though.  Her teenaged daughter did.  Not simple.  But beautiful.  These are the opening lines.

Drawn and quartered. You divided
me.  You were all four horses,
manes black as power
your foaming mouths and tense bodies were
beautiful to me
even then. (even now but
never mind)
You were all four hands on all four
whips. You were north
and east and west and
south as they dragged me away.
I had to decide where
to die.....

Aimee Seu, "The Decision"

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