POWER OF POETRY #78: G.E. SCHWARTZ

For me, the power of poetry is a kind of consecration made from our creaturely language which reverses existential randomness and estrangement. I believe its real power is in a kind of transubstantiation and its real presence makes us present (in both its creation and its reading and hearing)dispelling our doubts and sentimental hungers; replacing our crepuscular nostalgias and vague longings by grand and minute bursts of light. And with that light poetry has the power to usher us into a brave new world, filling our senses with the energy of creation where every bird, tree, branch, and blossom vibrates as if by immance.

    And, assuming that our creaturely language within poetry possesses this power, I go about my work to untie the bindings and stretch the known limits of poetry, as that poetry obliges me to expand our receptivity. I’d even go so far as to say that poetry’s power calls me to practice transubstantiation in every poem. By whatever talent I have, it’s incumbent on me to try to change plain elements into reality sublime. I encounter a jumble of weathers, birds, trees, branches, waters, blooms, dewfall, leaf fires, even prayers, then instress them and, delighted, I find the hurried randomness builds into an order.

The power of poetry also reorganizes molecular disorder: instead of losing heat, as our laws of thermodynamics indicate, the making of a poem reboots every time power zapped the altar of sacred words (all are!) hoc est corpus meum (this is my body). The localization of poetry’s power, onto everyday’s elements like our food, our drink, our events and the objects we engage in our lives add to my overall sense of compression, of felt pressure, of the stressing inward, of meaning.


G. E. Schwartz, author of Only Others Are, World, Thinking In Tongues and the forthcoming Chaos & Old Night, lives in Upstate New York.