Lately I find myself in a transition phase of recognizing where my own trauma and anxieties end and I begin. This poem, “All Things Grow” by Lydia Havens, performed with Kate Noel, at this summer’s National Poetry Slam in Denver, paid tribute to that transitional phase; and while I didn’t get a chance to see the poem performed in person, I read reactions to it left and right and, upon reading it (and seeing the video), felt a growth inside of myself.
I believe that’s the true meaning of poetry: feeling yourself grow and flourish in the moment, alongside another person, because of another person’s experience and words. I think there’s something especially enchanting about poems like that, and furthermore something enchanting about Lydia — they have this remarkable talent of being explicit and raw and shaping it into something beautiful, something that… grows, far beyond the usual expectations of what one thinks of when they walk into a poetry slam. And that might be one of my very favourite things about Lydia Havens as a writer, too: they are so far beyond the typical slam artist. Instead, they are the true definition of a poet. In a few brief words, they are walking, talking, magical, lizard-y poetry themselves.
“All Things Grow” by Lydia Havens, performed with Kate Noel
bless every poem about trauma,
& struggle, & loss i have written
thus far, for getting me this far.
bless all the space they needed to take up. bless them for knowing
when to step away.
bless all the songs i cannot
listen to anymore because
nostalgia & association will be
the death of me. bless the fact
that i am not dead yet. bless
the fact that i don’t know
where my abuser is anymore,
and i am okay with that.
it doesn’t mean i’ve forgiven him,
but it does mean i’ve forgiven myself.
bless my mother for believing me.
bless my mother for driving me
to all the psych wards, then picking me
back up after discharge. bless
my mother for believing in me.
bless my friends for carrying me home.
bless my friends for making me a home.
bless the city of Boise. bless all the light
it gives us, even at night. bless all
the rivers, even when they want
to overflow. bless the scars on my arms
that faded, and the ones on my face
that didn’t. bless all the ways i spill
like metal secrets against the floor.
bless the glitter always on my hands,
and the becoming. bless the way
my hair is growing out. bless the meds
that worked until they didn’t. bless the way
i never stopped working.
bless the fact that once, i thought
i didn’t know how to write a happy poem.
so bless all the cliches i am learning to love
because i like being a happy person
more than i like being a good writer.
bless vulnerability. bless bravery.
bless whatever it is i’m doing right now,
because everyone that’s ever hurt me
has tried to make me quiet—drown me
in the frantic water i just learned how
to endure. this is not a survival song.
this is the song I sing because I’ve survived.
the opportunity for the joy i have always deserved,
because i have always deserved to take up space.
that’s all. that’s all.