Greg Pak: Poetry

I’m best known for comics and films, but here I am writing poems again. You can read about the importance of poetry in my life in my 2018 “Thanks, Poetry” essay for the Poetry Foundation. Other recent publications include I BELONG TO YOU / MOTHERLAND and “Book Club.”

No hawk, no squirrel

Lord help me, I’m writing poetry again. It’s a terrible year, and somehow verse feels like a proper response, a way to grapple with emotional turmoil with the most efficiency and directness. Today I’m thinking about haiku and giving myself the challenge to focus on the classical elements by including a reference to the natural world, an exploration of a specific, tactile moment, and a instant of quiet revelation.  Here’s today’s result, inspired by what I saw on my morning walk.

squirrel tail

No hawk no, squirrel–
Just a bushy, severed tail
Curled in fresh cut grass.

How to remember what you already know about the things that matter

How to remember what you already know about the things that matter

This poem
is a quiet room
and a mirror
and a simple word like “grief”
limned with gold thread, tied to a brick,
and thrown down a fairy tale well

you have to listen so hard
just to hear the echo

after all this drama
it must come back transformed
infused with new meaning
the poet only used a hundred words
he must have chosen them so carefully

but it’s just “grief”
only softer
and clearer

“Thanks, Poetry” essay by Greg Pak in this month’s Poetry Magazine — featuring his high school poetry (oh no!)

Just a little stunned to have an essay in Poetry Magazine this month — which includes excerpts of my high school poetry!

The magazine has a feature called “The View from Here” in which it gets folks who aren’t generally known for their poetry to talk about the meaning of poetry in their lives. So I dug into my old high school notebooks and read through dozens of my old poems. Hoo boy! It was harrowing and fun and ultimately opened my eyes to how important poetry really has been in my development as a writer and a human being.

Read the essay online here!