The Poetry Question

Discovering the Relevance of Words

QOTD – June 26th – Nothing Can Save You Except Writing.

 – Charles Bukowski

often it is the only
between you and
no drink,
no woman’s love,
no wealth
match it.
nothing can save
it keeps the walls
the hordes from
closing in.
it blasts the
writing is the
the kindliest
god of all the
writing stalks
it knows no
and writing
at itself,
at pain.
it is the last
the last
what it


Well, is it true? Is writing the most powerful thing in existence? A professor of mine once told a story of English settlers who came into a Native American village in an attempt to overtake it. They approached the natives with a document, and told them that the piece paper stated the village now belonged to them, and all the tribesman needed to leave immediately, or be faced with death. Obviously, the natives had no way of understanding either the English spoken, nor the document they’d been handed. All they knew was that the piece of parchment held some type of power. With this knowledge, they drew symbols on an animal skin, and brought this to the settlers. The Native Americans acted calm, and handed over their own document. Something the settlers saw in this document made them turn around and seek new land. The Native Americans of that area were able to live in peace, and were never threatened again.

Now, realistically, this was told as a metaphor to show the power of words. But it worked. It’s a powerful sentiment, and obviously one that I’ve remembered for the the last 14 years.

So, your question of the day:

Are words truly the most powerful thing in existence? If so, why? If not, why not?





About Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin spent more than a decade in Education as a high school English teacher, and is now an Instructional Coach for the Longview School District. He is also the founder of The Poetry Question, an online journal which focuses on reviews of small press poetry publications, and runs a regular series called "The Power of Poetry," where notable poets share their personal stories of how poetry has affected their lives. Margolin resides in Vancouver, Washington with his wife, and daughter.

2 comments on “QOTD – June 26th – Nothing Can Save You Except Writing.

  1. kalabalu
    June 26, 2013

    Words are powerful. They look lifeless but has the power to change anyone’s life, legal or morally, it has effect..pain remains longer when words are harsh, it resonates..and torture..that is why, although it seems effortless but each word is an action.

  2. The Running Son
    June 26, 2013

    I had to ponder this for a moment. Words lay at the foundation of expression, and provide the ability to organize larger expressive projects, and can engage the use of the senses to aid the final effect, as in the creation of a motion picture. Movies seem to be the supreme communication format. In movies, words are informed by music, images, and images that move, all coming together for a greater impact on the viewer than words alone, i think.

    However, for the writer or poet, these small, simple symbols are all that connect and all that do the heavy work of sorting out our confusing and cross-conceptual inner world–our psyches. And when trying to express that inside chaos, indirectly, through the encrypted use of simple words on paper (poetry, prose, inspired writing of any flavor), magic happens… a few well chosen words can relieve great internal conflicts and pressure. For the artist of all varieties, this could be paramount to therapy, but for the artist on a genuine quest to touch archetypes and find her real path, words can alter the very course of lives. Like writing did to mine.


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