Poetry reflects life, the self, and how the two make peace, or stay at odds, with one another. No matter who your favorite is, poets are seekers, soothsayers, political pundits, comedians, satirists, in love, or fragmented by heartbreak. The constant search of a poet is the soul of the matter. Why is it important? Why does it free and haunt us?
In the life of a poet there is conflict. All people face this, but the poet’s job is to get it on paper. Grab hold of the essence and wrestle out the metaphysical into the light of day. That struggle for meaning is an elusive one. The truly metaphysical things in life forever one step ahead of us. Like Orpheus turning too soon back to Hades for his Eurydice, the poet is constantly almost there – but never there.
Then there is the everyday life. Poetry captures sparrows, children playing, elderly couples holding hands, the reflection in shop windows – all of these are fascinating. Poets feel the motion between people and hear the music wind makes blowing over Coke bottles. Small things. Often missed things. Poets see them and it is their job to portray it honestly.
Honesty: That is the rule of poetry. There are two schools of thought here. Some think that fiction is the place for lies. Poetry is where people often turn when they are desperate for something real, lasting, and true. The other camp goes by the motto: If you are going to lie, lie big. The latter of these schools is flawed. The poetry reader pays close attention to each syllable and when they catch the hint of braggart, or worse – a liar – they will disengage.
Poetry is the people. It is their strife and victories. It is their social ills and legislative remedy. Poetry is important because it takes what’s pure in us and it builds a community through words, lines, and stanzas. Poets take stock of the little things that create a grand landscape of nostalgia for those lost among taxis and concrete.
But now, now in the time of the Coronavirus, people are afraid. People lack that connective tissue once enjoyed before this plague. The importance of poetry has never been more important. It brings us back together. It helps quell our fears. It will record our ascension into an even better, more aware, culture.
Clifford Brooks (www.cliffbrooks.com) is a poet, founder of the Southern Collective Experience LLC (www.southerncollectiveexperience.com), and Editor-in-Chief of the Blue Mountain Review.
To date he’s responsible for three, traditionally-published, books of poetry: The Draw of Broken Eyes & Whirling Metaphysics, Exiles of Eden, and Athena Departs.
He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his girlfriend, Carolyn. They share a dog named Daisy.