BC Poetry Profile: Henry Relyea

Henry Relyea // Used with permission.

Henry Relyea is taking a poetry class at Bellevue College with Professor Jeanne Morel. Below is his representative poem titled, “Suspense,” followed by a brief interview.


Note: The lines that are italicized are from poet and Pulitzer Prize-winner Jericho Brown.

I am scared to see a movie
all the way through.
My dad reads the end of a book
before reading the start.
He knows who dies, who falls 
in love, who holds 
regrets, before he knows 
their names. My name leaves 
his tongue with the same appearance
as the characters; insincere,
I have a giant, neon sign
name emblazed;
he reads it off
like he’s big city shopping.
I have to know the end
of the movie before watching.

Q: Why do you like writing poetry? Why is poetry important?

A: Poetry does a lot of things for me. It can help me through certain emotions/experiences I am confused about. It can put a voice to something itching in the back of my brain. It’s a healthier way to work out more violent emotions, etc. It also can be a fun challenge for me; messing with the language and understanding what’s necessary and unnecessary for the poem. Also, as an autistic person, I have found poetry to be an amazing form of communication, as with poems everything is very purposeful and you are supposed to “over-analyze” everything.

Q: What is this poem about and why is it your best piece of work?

A: I do not believe any person has a poem that is their definitive best piece of work, but I believe this poem to be one of my stronger ones. I have fairly rocky familial relationships, and I’ve always hated the notion that family loves you no matter what, or that they are the ones who know you best. Despite that, however, I did grow up with them and I take after them in many ways. That’s what this poem is about to me; the intersection between those two ideas. 

Q: Do you plan on pursuing poetry or a writing of another kind?

A: I have absolutely no idea what I want to do as a career yet, but I know poetry will stick with me as at least a hobby. I have always loved creative writing, and poetry fits the niche I enjoy in that field. 

To view the rest of the Poetry Profile series, click here!