Regardless of age, all artists need encouragement in some form or another.  There are no gas stations to refuel our faith in our work.  So, today’s buffet is focused on offering a little needed boost in our belief that our art is something worth doing, something of value, something needed.

While we hope you’ll enjoy what we’ve put on the table for you today, this is also a potluck and we look forward to seeing your best dishes.  Poets are invited to post one of their own poems in the comment section.  (If you’re new, just click here to learn more about our weekly Poetry Potluck and Inspiration Buffet.)

First we have Aquilah Nelson from Bowie High School reading Marge Peircy’s poem “To the Young Who Want To” at the 2014 Poetry Out Loud Maryland State Final Competition.

Next is Patti Smith with her wonderful advice to the young and her thoughts on how technology has put artists into a position of new power.

Lastly, here’s an old a dish of mine:

Live Your Own Language

I wanted to send you letters that would heal
the dark ache in your torn heart. I wanted
to give you a language that could bring life
back to your soul, your convictions, your hopes,
and your God given bounty of beautiful gifts.

Wanted to give you a literary expression
that could lift you from the slow low hum
of everything you thought you could never become,
lift you above the lifelong embedded lies,
lift you up and out of the century old family history
of hurt and hit and hate.

Wanted to give you the alphabet of love, of joy,
of lasting friends, of solace and promise.
Wanted to arrange strong sentences to protect you
from the vicious tongues, the dangerous hands, and
the lethal yet commercially advertised depths of hell.

Wanted to give you a voice that needed no screams.
I wanted to take you from the prison
of illiteracy and silence to the free
and moving and miraculous world of vocabulary.

But my words are only mine. It is not my words,
their words, or anyone else’s words that you need.
What you need are your own words.
You must find your own voice,
create your own dictionary,
develop your own definitions,
and live as though you are
a language that was never spoken
until you entered this world.

You must speak in your language
even if they do not understand.
Communicate in your own words
even if it seems no one is listening.
Write your own letters
even if no one reads them.

And remember,
the infinite universe has ears
and understands every language,
even the language of your life.

-Kay Kestner

…and now it’s time for your poems.