Choosing Poetry

Glass with magnetic poetry

If I’d had a choice when I started writing, poetry would not have been my chosen genre.

But as a twelve-year-old who just needed to get her feelings out, poetry was a wonderful form to turn to. It was a relatively short form, rich in variety, and I had fun writing the lines. I didn’t know then that nearly a quarter of a century later I would be working on publishing my fourth poetry book with a fifth already in mind. What started out as a mode of expression became a life-long love. And now, here I am, a nearly completed manuscript by my side, which, my editors tell me, is my best work yet. Frankly, I don’t see it.

At the center of my writing, and especially the poetry specifically, has always been my heart. Whether it’s something I need to express but won’t say aloud, a conversation I’ve had with God – sometimes as I’m writing, or a grief I need to deal with by taking pencil to paper, I pour it all out in lead and pink eraser bits. Line by line, I get my feelings out. My poetry is where I go to work things through, to be able to express a truth and give it life. Whatever poetic lines I have written have always been first and foremost for myself. Thus, when my editors or a reader tells me how much my words have meant to them, I’m always a little mystified that something I crafted out of raw emotions reaches someone else so deeply. And yet the truth is there, time after time, that this is so.

Some of the greater gifts I’ve been given are the moments in a ministry workshop or church service when I’m excited because the speaker announces they are going to read a poem only to find out I’ve already heard it because it’s one of mine. It’s a strange mixture of disappointment at not getting to hear something new and intense delight that someone found what I wrote worth sharing. I’ve learned it’s the gift I have to offer, a very humble gift in my eyes, yet people see it as far more.

By this point, I’ve grown used to the idea that even though my writing starts with me, the message is meant for many more. No matter the emotions behind my words, I know they can be used in ways I can’t imagine as I write them nor do I think I would ever want to fully know the impact they have. By being kept in the dark most of the time as to the effect of what I say, it’s easier to write with vulnerability and love. I’m glad I didn’t know about my choice in the beginning because after seeing the difference such a gift this form can be, poetry is certainly what I would choose now.


Source of Words

I hold love close
though it burns my hands
and casts into shadows
the places where it’s carved away
with its sharp knife
hollow canyons
longing to be filled

and if it’s into this emptiness,
this living pain of love,
you pour in strength
where I cry my tears,
a power of words
where I go to grieve,
then it’s the pain, the loss
inside me
that welcomes in these words,
to give voice to the grief,
to open up the empty places
where I hang the tears

so others might feel
the sacredness of their sorrow,
their struggles,
their own flow of love.

This ache of hurt
opening the well of
life-giving water—
I will be grateful
for my heart being torn
urging me on
to invite all those who are thirsty
to come and drink
this love,
this source of power,
strength of my pain.

Thus I will cry the tears
that go beyond myself
so other’s fields
may be watered
with the words
I am driven to release.



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About the Author

Sarah Katreen Hoggatt
Sarah is the author of several books and numerous articles. A freelance writer, international speaker, book designer, and spiritual director, she holds a Master of Arts degree in Christian Ministry and a Certificate of Spiritual Formation and Discipleship from George Fox Evangelical Seminary. Sarah makes her home in Salem, Oregon. For more information, see her website at

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