I LOVE YOUR POEM!: Rin Hart on Hannah North

This is the part of a series called “I LOVE YOUR POEM!” in which people submit on behalf of local poets whose work they admire and write about why they do. The idea is not only to highlight great work, especially from those who may not submit the work themselves, but also to create a big gushy lovefest in the community. If you’re interested in submitting on behalf of a local poet you love you can check out the submission guidelines here

On my last night in Boulder, Hannah told me that I’m the reason she started writing poetry again, for the first time in her adult life. I was already crying, from what I can only describe as utter, uncontainable muchness. My tears flowed more freely as I took in her words—in that moment I could die having left the world more astonishing, promising and divine than the day I was born.

Hannah and Rin

Hannah’s myriad talents render anyone blessed enough to witness them awestruck. She pirouettes through parking lots on inline skates with the grace and skill of a professional figure skater. Her first night reading at the So, You’re a Poet Boulder open mic stunned the audience so acutely that the host and various voices from the crowd demanded she read it twice more, slowly. (She was shaking from nerves, but obliged.) Watching her flow, contort, release and catch herself on an aerial rope 30 feet above the earth has left me in tears (yes, again) and wanting for all the world to stop time.

Early on in our friendship, Hannah lay on the floor of the Louisville climbing gym as I monkeyed around the wall for five minutes. I figured she was stretching or daydreaming, but when I lowered to the ground she gifted me a poem she had written just then, titled “For Rin.” Thus began a friendship recorded in poems and longhand letters, intimate expressions of hope and suffering whose mutual witnessing consoled and united us through the trials of life as felt through bleeding artist hearts.

Of all Hannah’s shocking, soul-piercing poems, I did you the disservice of choosing only a few. Poems not included exhale images like “the limit is a soft animal that breathes,” and “The sky was a mouth full of golden teeth.” And then there’s the way she reveals the contents of her psyche, thought-feelings like this one: “Some day we will be subject to / The thing that takes hold and pulls / And I wonder what it may feel like to snap.” And “Let me.. / make our home in the places that hurt to touch. / I will make everything from scratch.”

Many of Hannah’s poems are short and tumble you into an ending you can hardly believe:

   Staring Contest

   ancient light falls on wet windowsill
   and the night creatures wail
   in their soft tone and treacle shadow
   they and I do the good kind of begging
   for infinite hours of this dark blue
   moody mountains and low
   clouds kiss the ridge down
   comforter meet me at the saddle
   of your collarbone and my
   temple we have something
   to celebrate

   -Hannah North

But my favorite poem of hers breaks this form. I love this (untitled) poem because it implicates what I cannot say: what our friendship means to me, the sound-barrier-shattering pitch of our love and admiration for each other.

The poem speaks through memories of my last days in Boulder before I moved into my van and drove West: the night we rallied for an Angel Olsen concert in Denver, so deliriously exhausted we drove home before the show was through; our fantasies of rendezvous in New Orleans and other foreign cities, passing mornings together disguised as mysterious poetic strangers; the nights I slept on a mattress on her floor after my lease ran up and before I was ready to leave; our shared love, language and meeting place of the Boulder Circus Center, where she taught me to dance in the medium of aerial rope.


   I think it’s raining
   you said before anyone else noticed
   And it was. Mustard puddles on the Denver pavement
   This version of us snapped photos at the window
   But another version will linger in the downpour
   And another still will run straight through to a waiting train
   And a rising tide
   And a steaming jungle cenote
   That version of us will sit sipping espresso in cities
   hungry for a witness or two
   May we never have enough and always have more
   More to wonder at. More wonderful the longer I look
   May you never stand still
   Flip book philosopher you are every morning’s muse
   Let the sun try over and over to do you justice
   The morning you left it felt like my boots were on the wrong feet
   Standing in this familiar place made fantastical by you
   Curled up in a fuzzy blanket writing every morning
   And dressed up in my clothes
   We love (and will love) each other with strong
   arms and microbended knees
   and notes under my pillow
   and the world’s tiniest joints
   and any excuse for a cup of coffee
   Soft footfalls in the night the quiet noises of
   settling and centering
   I want to be your home away from homelessness
   I know you have to go
   But don’t forget to write
   The world’s gifts are piling up and we are straining
   at the seams and the spandex
   to hold them

   -Hannah North

Hannah North (she/her) is a Boulder poet and multidisciplinary circus artist of professional caliber, whose work in the field of Quantum Mechanics constantly boggles my flimsy humanities-only mind. Oh, yeah, and she’s only 25. (She’s also too humble for me to allow her to write her own bio.)

Rin Hart (they/them) is a freelance writer, poet and audio-literary artist satisfying their hunger for novelty and wild things by wandering the U.S. in their camper van. Born and raised in Berkeley, they now consider Boulder their home, as it’s where they found family and poetry. You can find their work at rin-hart.com, and @rin.hart.writer on Instagram.