1050: To The Woman Crying Uncontrollably in the Next Stall

20240126 SD

1050: To The Woman Crying Uncontrollably in the Next Stall


MAJOR: This fall, I spoke with listeners at the Twin Cities Book Festival about the place of poetry in their lives. This week, we’re sharing their stories.

A. RAFAEL: My name is A. Rafael Johnson. I am a writer and a teacher of creative writing.

I find poetry is vital. I find poetry is something I need because poetry has this wonderful ability to take us out of our daily lives, to sort of lift us out of y’know the daily grind of like “I gotta get up, I gotta get the kids to school, I gotta get on my commute, I gotta answer this email and go to this meeting” — and poetry can just take us out of that for a moment and reconnect us to what it means to be human, and it’s wonderful and very necessary.

It is finding language for an experience you’ve had but you haven’t been able to put into words yet. And with a lot of poetry, not all, but with a lot of poetry it captures sort of this moment, this corner of the human experience, that no one else has quite seen. And it lets us sort of step out of ourselves, and enter someone else’s — not their life, not their narrative, not the whole arc of their life, but that moment of experience, we’re able to share that, even across years, across languages, across cultures, it lets us bridge our shared humanity in a way that is unique in art forms.

MYKA: I’m Myka Kielbon, producer of The Slowdown.

My friends and I, like many people, send each other stuff on the internet that we feel relates to each other. Different topics for different friends. Jokes about card games for some, videos of very round and happy arctic seals for others. And a common response is: I feel so seen. It’s a response I also use when I talk about my favorite poems.

I think some poets will come at me for this, but for a lot of reasons, poetry is like the original meme. Memes are by definition a form, much like a poetic form. You can put different text upon the same picture, and the picture invites a certain read, much like using a sonnet or sestina. Maybe the proliferation of memes has… simplified our expressions of some experiences. But this expansive vocabulary of internet shorthand has also helped me commune and commiserate and connect with the people in my life over the things we feel and see every day. Those poems which really connect are much the same — they put language to a bit of life that feels large and unwieldy inside of us.

Today’s poem is a vessel, one that holds handfuls of hard-to-describe experiences, and knows that those unbelievably strong hands can reach out to someone else with love. It stares straight in the face that courage it takes to be a human with a body — and all of those bodily needs and desires and sorrows that come with it.

To the Woman Crying Uncontrollably in the Next Stall
by Kim Addonizio

If you ever woke in your dress at 4am ever
closed your legs to someone you loved opened
them for someone you didn’t moved against 
a pillow in the dark stood miserably on a beach
seaweed clinging to your ankles paid 
good money for a bad haircut backed away
from a mirror that wanted to kill you bled 
into the back seat for lack of a tampon
if you swam across a river under rain sang
using a dildo for a microphone stayed up 
to watch the moon eat the sun entire
ripped out the stitches in your heart
because why not if you think nothing &
no one can / listen I love you joy is coming

"To The Woman Crying Uncontrollably in the Next Stall" by Kim Addonizio. Used by permission of the poet.