The Power of Poetry
By Noah C Lekas
The power of poetry is independence. It needs no infrastructure. It demands no resource. It necessitates no audience. The only thing that a poetic life requires, is a poet.
Plenty has been said and sensationalized about the power of the poetic to melt perception and disrupt presumption. As an act, poetry is subversive. It amplifies the reality of perception over objectivity. Poetry gives power to the poet as an individual. It’s not what you look at that counts, it’s how you look at it.
“Style is the answer to everything.
Fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous day.
To do a dull thing with style is preferable to doing a
Dangerous thing without style.”
-from “Style” by Charles Bukowski
Once a great industrial city, my hometown was flattened by decades of recession. Amongst the lay-offs and closing businesses I discovered poetry – right after I discovered punk rock.
I found a copy of The “Priest” They Called Him in a record store in Madison, WI. Wandering in and out of the head shops and boutiques on State Street, the lo-fi album cover with a ghostly figure dressed in a long black cloak captured my 14-year-old attention. I got home, put on the CD and bought my first William S. Burroughs book immediately after. The philosophy of punk, as I understood it, was the freedom to self-define. Poetry, as I experienced it, was the most potent expression of punk rock that I’d ever seen.
Self-destruction didn’t interest me. In my circumstance, success felt more rebellious. I suppose that in a state of heightened expectation self-sabotage is defiant, but in my world, defiance looked like hard work. I wasn’t inspired by indulgence or mayhem, I wanted independence. I wanted autonomy and absolution. I wanted unrestrained access to the divine and I wanted to never have to ask permission or apologize for my ambition. The poets I read were more than contrarians and iconoclasts, they were seekers.
We have no control over anyone else’s perspective but we do control our own. Poetry provided a means to sure-up my own point-of-view and self-identity without allies, instruments or money. I believed my perspective to be as true as anyone else’s – so I started down the path. Writing and reading poetry liberated my reality from the dying inertia of my situation. It provided a type of freedom from circumstance.
Unlike other artforms, poetry isn’t bound by its physical medium. It isn’t trapped on a page. It isn’t subject to the mechanisms of control because it exists independent of its physical form. It is completely self-defined. Autonomy, absolution, divinity? Poetry desires none of these things. It has no need state. The only real obstacle that a poem ever faces is its poet.
The power of poetry is independence. And the power over poetry rests solely in the hands of the poet.
Noah C. Lekas is a writer, poet and music journalist from Racine, WI. His first book, Saturday Night Sage was published by Blind Owl records in April of 2019. The full-length collection of narrative poetry explores mysticism and menial labor. His work has also appeared in a variety of publications including Please Kill Me, No Depression, The Hindu, and Startup Grind. For more information visit noahclekas.com.