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Art, NYC, writing life

Looking for Poetry Outside of Poems

One of my favorite professors at Howard University, whom I’m still in touch with, once said that I should never look for poetry in poems: go out into the world and discover something that stimulates you. I try to live by this maxim. The entire week I was in New York, I carried my notebook with me and created a breathing ticker tape. Anything and everything that caught my attention I wrote it down, forcing myself to give it a name. This is the work of a writer, particularly a poet: to give names to things that aren’t obvious.

This is what I wrote my first day as I was staying with my pops who has a place on Far Rockaway Beach:

waves crashing

rain, wind

sea salt

music, grafitti


white castle

water running through earth

cemetaries crowded with chipped teeth…

This is what makes writing so interesting to me. How do I name something that is the result of two different worlds colliding?

I asked my Dad to accompany me to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and it was one of the most stimulating museums I’d ever visited. There were about four floors. There was modern art, of course, but also avant-garde experimental work that I couldn’t figure out what was going on.

 See for yourself:

 Is this art? And what are the standards these days?

Two Women Staring at Each Other

To see the rest of this post, click here, Tidal Basin Review Blog

About Abdul Ali

I'm a fellow at American University studying creative nonfiction and poetry. I write across a few genres but it's all brought together by larger questions about culture.


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