Smart Girls Read Poetry

On the value of getting your hair wet.
By Meredith Walker

What is the impact of poetry in our creative, professional, and personal lives? For me, all three of those are intertwined, and have been since I created Smart Girls with Amy Poehler. Smart Girls is an organization dedicated to helping young people cultivate their authentic selves. We emphasize intelligence and imagination over "fitting in." We celebrate curiosity over gossip. We are a place where people can be their weird and wonderful selves.

Smart Girls has grown into a real community. One of the main goals of that community is to let people, especially young girls, know that they are not alone. Poetry is a part of that picture. I turn to poetry to know that I am not alone in my own feelings — feelings that I don't know how to articulate. Poetry reminds me to be generous with acknowledgment, to advocate for others, and to stay the course.

The earliest memory I have of poets and poetry is Shel Silverstein. At the time I wasn't even aware that it was poetry. I just liked the sound and feeling of his words. I'm probably not alone when I say a lot of that feeling was lost when I encountered poetry at school. There it was mostly learning about iambic pentameter and onomatopoeia. Looking back on it, I didn't really connect with or understand most of the poetry I read in school. I connected with Doonesbury and Judy Blume instead. I wish I had encountered Edna St. Vincent Millay. That would have been pretty incredible.

Read the full essay on the Poetry Foundation website.