POWER OF POETRY #54: BILL DENHAM

The power of poetry is the quintessential, the most highly developed, power of language itself. 

And our language is a creation of the human spirit. 

The words we use, reflect who we are and make of our world what it is. Words, the medium of language, are all symbolic, and, as such, they are like actions that carry meanings and other meanings and other meanings, beyond themselves, beyond a literal definition.

So, for me, the act of creating, of writing or of speaking a poem into existence, is an act of discovery, of discovery of meaning, an act of self-discovery—who I am at this given moment in time? What do I think about this particular event or action or observation? How do I feel about what is happening to me or to my community or to my world of which I am only a tiny, tiny part? How do I see what is around me or what is inside of me? How do I perceive the external world and/or my own, and by extension, other’s internal worlds—that world of the spirit, that world where language is created? 

If I am able, in this creative process, the process of giving birth to a poem, to discover the right words to describe my own internal or external experience, I will have made an overture to another human being. I will have created the possibility of connection, the possibility of beginning a conversation—both within the hearer and between ourselves.

Now, having said all of this, I must add a very important caveat: human beings all possess the capacity for doing good and for doing harm. From my perspective I believe it is our task in life to cultivate our capacities for doing good and to become increasingly aware of our capacity for doing harm and thereby, hopefully, reduce our actual harmful behavior. So, for me, poetry, is an effort to tell the truth about who I am, who I have been and who I hope to become. The gift of poetry is an awesome mantle of responsibility.