If there’s one thing that probably rings truest for me among all the things I could say about the power of poetry, it would be that poetry has the capacity to make us better people.
Maybe, sometimes, it’s because a particular poem needs revisiting more than once to understand what it’s trying to say. Or maybe it’s because the power of a poem is beyond the actual words, and needs time to discover.
In poetry, you find the life stories of each of us and as a reader, you interpret each poem in your own way, despite the real meaning behind the poem or regardless of the reasons why the writer wrote it.
“….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?
“We Blacks in space are Hoovers.
Who gonna be cryin’ in the 23rd century? / Not this hole’s grand grands. We define / the light until we all done letting stars be bright / ‘N suck up all the credit for nothing / they do ‘cept sit there burning.”
I can’t go to work and say to a colleague: I stay up late at night imagining animals being hit in the road over and over…
At this moment I’m typing in my apartment. A dog barks from a neighbor’s yard. A petal drops from the vase of wildflowers on my desk. And still I am in my parents basement playing with an eight-track recorder.
In this way I am an outfielder, mobilized on the balls of his feet, crouched, glove hand and free hand never far apart, poised for the seed of poetry to head my way following the sharp crack of wood at the plate.
Poetry has spread itself thick throughout my life much like this mint. I’ll write a line, put it in my pocket, roll it around a bit, and then hours or days or months later, it’ll have rooted itself and grown into something.
The landscape intensified into a fever dream of hail and sun, deep woods, shadows on the sea and boomeranging, shrieking swifts in the sky. I was watching Six Feet Under…[and] listening to PJ Harvey.
Today, writing this in a parking lot while my son gets ready for a hockey game, I have the word “miracle” stuck in my throat. But, poetry is not the miracle. Life is. And poetry has allowed me to embrace that.
For me, writing evolved into a way to better comprehend, articulate and even reshape the world. Now the work that excites me is writing that is exploratory
It is how both can have their salvations split in two in a single process. I think it was Jericho Brown that said: “Poetry has its own language”. Nothing can be truer in my opinion.
The whole time, I thought I was alone. But there were people just as pained and confused as I was. I found my community. I found my church. I kept returning every Sunday, sharing work I had written during the week.
Yes, I’m a poet and proud of it, and I don’t think I’ll ever want to be anything else. It’s what I would have said in answer to that old chestnut, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Wow! How many people actually get to have their dreams come true?
Some poems will remain within the confines of the therapist’s office. Some poems will never be known to anyone other than myself. Some poems I share with the world.
The power of poetry, then, is its ability to show us ordinary things in an extraordinary light.
I believe the intensity of a poem, the dense nature of a line, the possibilities of syntax, and all aspects that make up a poem work together to become a fitting medium for tragedy.
I don’t only want people to be entertained, but also for them to feel something. And the fastest way to do that is through poetry; you are framing a feeling and passing it on, even if it’s only for a brief moment.
Poetry is the real game of exposure. Really great poetry shows holes, the smallness, the seeking. We seek a connection to others that comes often from exposing moments on a page that you might be most embarrassed to put down on paper.
If done well, a poem can be far more powerful than a photograph, because you are capturing not just the image, but the emotional context and resonance of that thing.
I saw poetry as much more complex and rewarding than I had originally thought it would be over the years. Poetry is the one form that can take the readers to another level of meaning and power.
POWER OF POETRY #35: “Facts/Dreams” – Matthew Mayfield: “….I strive to be that ONE person who keeps you closer to Life and one step away from the trigger.”
I am trying to write poems that stand inside of uncertainty and still find things to praise. And I don’t think it matters if I praise my sore legs that keep walking me home from work each night, or if I praise the relief of night rain in my first Carolinian July, or if I praise an idea of a home I miss, or if I praise the mild infection in my right nipple for not being cancer, or if I praise my friend who has stomach cancer but keeps living beyond the rational limits doctors have suggested—it is all praising living. It is all beholding the terrible beautiful uncertainty of being human and saying thank you. I don’t think there’s anything more beautiful than gratitude, and poetry helps me to access it.
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