The Poetic Call
Much like newlyweds returning home from their honeymoon, are asked when they intend to have their first child, I am often asked why I write poetry and where I’m going with it. In the past, as a young, impressionable woman, trying to rise above circumstances, the skepticism around poetry as a viable form of art, income and independence, was enough to silence the writer within.
After many years of silence and conformity, not being able to ignore the call any longer, this question evokes a very different response. It seems as laughable as asking a painter, why they paint and what they hope to do with their art. To those who write and appreciate poetry, we know that each word, line and stanza, are the cornerstones of our masterpieces.
In answering the question of why people write poetry, we need to understand what poetry is and its impact and contribution to the world. Poetic words are the art that is the expression of the journey of the heart, the soul, the mind and all that is life around us. When we write poetry, we write words that have the power to transform, heal and open the mind to see the unseen and, therein lies therapy for the reader and the catharsis for the writer. Although a catchy phrase, there is truth in the saying that “Life is poetry”.
With words, poets paint pictures in color and sound on the canvases found in the mind of the reader, where no two pictures are the same. Woven into the imagery are ideas, concepts, philosophies, history, psychology, religion and emotions that may have multiple interpretations; akin to scripture and sacred verses that speak to the soul in the language of the individual.
The modern or contemporary poetry community is vibrant and thriving in today’s climate. As classical poetry is reverent of style, structure and a culture that was fitting for the times, contemporary poetry seeks to breakthrough traditional structure, defy conformity and disrupt and confront or demystify taboos; fitting for today’s culture and society’s evolution and rendering it relevant to everyday life.
So, what do we say to people who ask why we write poetry; we explain how lives are transformed, how hearts are healed, how armies are empowered, how lovers entwine and dreamers dream through poetic verse. In short; we express life. And where do we think it’s going; to a place where all art goes: “out there”; trusting that it lands where it needs to. And if our voice is heard by the masses, and we gain recognition, we’re grateful, but that recognition is not the driving force behind the creativity or the motivator.
As modern poets, we answer the call to conquer self-doubt and skepticism, striving to write with abandon, sharing with courage and encouraging all other poets, writers and artists to do the same. We follow in the footsteps of many great poets who rose above the naysayers and persevered to share their stories through their words, thereby transforming nations.
To all who weave and wind through self doubt and skeptics, trust your intuition and rest in knowing that your work is your art and that, as it resonates with the reader, so it has the power to transform those for whom it is destined. There is no right or wrong in art; it is the creative expression of the artist. When we create, we pour something unique and inspired of ourselves into our work and who we are is breathed into the world.
Be encouraged and be inspired to keep writing and to breathe your art into the world.
“Poetry is finer and more philosophical than history; for poetry expresses the universal, and history only the particular.” ~ Aristotle
“I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.” ~ William Blake