“Poetry is a life-cherishing force. . . For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the
cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry.”
Mary Oliver from A Poetry Handbook
April is National Poetry Month and I have been wondering how much poetry is a part of people’s lives and how much impact it has had.
As I looked through my bookshelves and searched around the web, I found a lot of variety in style and type of poetry. It’s so much like other art forms – sculptural, abstract, realistic, impressionistic, photographic etc. The history is long and deep.
I visited the website of the League of Canadian Poets and found a series of lectures: The Anne Szumigalski Memorial Lecture Series
From there I found this lecture by Robert Currie in 2012 that had some food for thought.
Coming (back) to Poetry – Robert Currie
Now let me begin by sharing my fascination with the way poets see poetry, with the way they define it and describe it, with how poetic their prose on that particular topic is. For example, Patrick Friesen says that poetry is “a way of thinking, a way of being. It’s life-blood. Jugular music.” Stephen Dobyns believes that “a poem is a window that hangs between two or more human be ings who otherwise live in darkened rooms.” According to Irving Layton, “A poem when you are done with it, must be able to get off the page, turn the doorhandle, and walk directly into the lives of people.” Lorri Neilsen Glenn says that “poetry remains the erotic hearth we are drawn to . . . it is a sacred sort of space, a state of being and of heart, tender, raw, and often exhilarating. . . .And,” she adds, “poetry is the grace we can find in the everyday.” Molly Peacock takes only a slightly different approach. “Poetry,” she says, “is the art that responds to the anxiety of living.” Rosemary Griebel notes that “each of us comes to a poem listening / for perceptive words that will crack open / the meaning of this world.” I think you’ll agree that poets often have fascinating ideas about this art that means so much to us. Yes, but it’s equally fascinating to learn how they come to poetry, these artists who so often go on to dedicate their lives to their art.
What has been your experience with poetry. Is it in your life?
If you write poetry – is “poetry is a spiritual and emotional necessity” as Rober Currie suggests? Read his entire speech here (pdf).
In April of 2010, I did a tweet poetry project – writing small pieces of poetry and poem fragments on twitter, limiting myself to 140 characters. It all began here: March 31, 2010. Throughout my life I’ve struggled with writing poetry – both in the sense of the writing process and in terms of what it means to me as a voice.
From a work in progress:
cradles her piece of clay
circular motion waiting
hand at the core
hands in clay
she makes a song in the shape of a pregnant belly
forms her words of earth and water
air and fire
mandala wheel turning
she never loses
circular motion returns
a simple prayer