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Responses to American Poetry

The aim of this online space is to host the research work of university students or young scholars as this emerges from larger projects focusing on the American poetry scene. The objective of this initiative is to bring this kind of research activity to the attention of the general public in an attempt to further promote the exchange of ideas with regard to the process of reading, understanding and appreciating poetry writing.


Tatiani Rapatzikou 
(Associate Professor, School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece; Advisor and initiative co-ordinator

Lauryn Jones

Poem Reflection

When asked about my process as a poet, I often chuckle at the thought of translating the inner workings of my creative brain into language. Structure and/or rigidity within the realm of poetics stresses me out. That said, I’d say the best way to describe my poetic process is listen and flow.

Poems speak on their own terms. If I listen, they will tell me what they want to be and how they want to exist. Funny enough, this poem was crafted in about twenty minutes in a deluded state and there were no rewrites. When this piece was written, I was heavily influenced by Durand Bernarr’s song “Boundaries Featuring Tired & Exhausted.” The idea of having “Tired & Exhausted” in the title was intriguing to me and, in the way Durand used it, humorous. (I’d like to add here that as a writer, the constant in my work is the presence of musical influence.) At first, I thought the poem was going to be an offshoot of that song, an accompanying piece of sorts. However, at the time I wrote it I was actually both tired and exhausted. In that regard, this poem was truly an expression of my mindstate. That is the reason I write poetry in the first place: to express something on the page that I wouldn’t otherwise verbalize.

Although certain poetic devices were present in this piece, they materialized on their own. I wish I could take credit for consciously incorporating these devices but to be frank, I’m a sonic writer; I write to sound. Once the poem sounds right, in my mind that means it’s complete. To that end, crafting this poem was relatively easy. The convention I consciously followed was the standard form of the pantoum poem. Admittedly, I took a slight creative liberty at the end with the form inspired by Parent's Pantoum by Carolyn Kiser, which was purposeful. Traditionally the pantoum is made up of a collection of quatrains, usually two or three, in which the second line of the preceding stanza becomes the first line of the following stanza throughout the duration of the poem. Kiser’s poem was a total of nine stanzas with a stand-alone line at the end. Whereas my poem is six stanzas, I adopted the stand-alone line as well as the slight variations of the repeated line that is present in Kiser’s poem to emphasize a point. For me, the stand-alone line at the end of my poem helped bookend my sentiments and drive home the subliminal hip hop reference I alluded to. Which for those who may not be familiar was an allusion to Nas’ record “N.Y. State of Mind” in which he says, “I never sleep, cuz sleep is the cousin of death.”

As a poet I’m influenced by hip hop as a genre, not just in terms of the musicality of my work, but also in the purposeful methodology of construction. Hip hop is heavily influenced by jazz in which improvisation is a revered pillar. In hip hop, improv is referred to as freestyling which is what I adopted into my poetic process. Both hip hop and jazz invite the idea of improvisation as expression of self. I truly believe that whatever comes out of my pen or keystrokes is what the poem is supposed to be. My goal in crafting this poem was to express the breadth of exhaustion I felt in the moment of writing. Writing it was a form of catharsis. This might explain the rhythm and the free verse nature of it. Throughout the poem there are nods to artists I

listen to often, Durand Bernarr whom I mentioned earlier as well as Solange and Nas. I’d venture to say most of my writing has at least one hip hop or RnB reference embedded within it. Hip hop is a poetic form and although I don’t consider myself a rapper by any means, I am a poet influenced by the art of hip hop which will remain a constant in my work.


Bernarr, Durand. “Boundaries Feat. Tired & Exhausted.” YouTube, YouTube, 22 Sept. 2022, Accessed 30 Jan. 2023
Jones, Nasir. “Nas - N.Y. State of Mind (Official Audio).” YouTube, YouTube, 19 May 2017, Accessed 30 Jan. 2023.
Kiser, Carolyn. “Parent's Pantoum.”, Academy of American Poets, 1996, Accessed 30 Jan. 2023

Contributor Bio: Lauryn Jones
Poem: Tired & Exhausted: A Pantoum

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