Name: Jonathan Finlayson
From: Oakland, California
Current City: New York, New York
What does poetry mean to you?
Poetry is that which is sublime and nameless without attribution, the movement that is exceptional within the ordinary, the well of emotional intelligence that exceeds our capacity in all directions.
Poet and poem I’ll use for this entry:
“Perseus” by Robert Hayden
Her sleeping head with its great gelid mass
of serpents torpidly astir
burned into the mirroring shield—
a scathing image dire
as hated truth the mind accepts at last
and festers on.
I struck. The shield flashed bare.
Yet even as I lifted up the head
and started from that place
of gazing silences and terrored stone,
I thirsted to destroy.
None could have passed me then—
no garland-bearing girl, no priest
or staring boy—and lived.
Why do you like this poem?
The simplicity and universality of the themes of Hayden’s poem are what resonate with me. We’ve all encountered something at one point in time so terrifying that it left us paralyzed with fear. Conversely, we’ve all also slew those fears and thus fed on the rush of endorphins that accompanies this type of achievement.