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Writing is my release valve, the channel for what moves me in this world. If I didn't have it, how would I cope? How do people who don't write poetry cope with the onslaught of emotion and circumstance we all encounter in our lives? Poetry lets me stay upright and keep moving forward.

When I write, I springboard off other writers. I need to be in an environment where I can attend readings, hear poetry, read poetry. My ideal stimulation for writing would be a massive writers' conference where I could move from reading to reading, soaking up the magic. I come away from a great poetry reading with the whole world turned into verse; it beautifies everything; it gives the listeners tongues.

Poetry has also been a great connector for me. I have been amazed and gratified when a poem I thought profoundly personal turns out to express something for or to others who've been there. So my writing tends to be rooted in experience, usually my own. But like all writers, I am a liar, and "my" experience soon falls away as I edit a piece. The finished product is a fabrication, and I might not even remember after a while where it came from. It might be changed beyond recognition to serve the needs of its form or narrative. When I read through my notebooks I am often surprised to come upon things I have no memory of writing or experiencing. Writing makes them true, in a way.

The act of finishing a poem is for me the act of authenticating an experience. The word "experience" might include anything from an emotion, an anecdote or a passing thought. Whose experience it started out to be is irrelevant by the time the poem is finished, because it's gone public, and it therefore belongs to each reader to whom it speaks.

Rhona McAdam's works copyright © to the author.

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