Healing the World with Poetry
Healing the World with Poetry
Poetry makes an excellent conversation beginning with a lump in the throat then spilling out like liquid honey so sweet, savory, ending in the most natural wisdom.
To be a poet, you need to know when to listen and when not, as well as begin every day with a moment of silence, during the day listening to the children who are always on, we can learn as much from them as they from us.
Poets need to befriend isolated thinkers, to enjoy their gift of gab, to recognize universal truths, listen to their intuitions, and welcome the muses that are their best fans,
Poets need to give credence to the “unseen” and to know that there is no coincidence, and be appreciative of free will,
Poets need to learn to appreciate the sun setting, a bird call, a quiet garden, a clear sky, and a creative effort with an unambiguous pen. Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood, the unknown healing all wounds of reason.
Words are healers whether we are writing them, singing them, or reading them. Of course, a loving friend can be a healer. A song can be a healer. A celebratory greeting card can be a healer. We all enjoy healing through the music of words and images.
Both reading and writing poetry are forms of therapy for the reader and the writer. Writing poetry is an excellent way to pay renewed attention to the masters and their art. They inspire us to turn their art into “our art” through films, paintings, poetry, or even clay sculptures. None of us write alone without carrying on our back the whisperings of others.
There is no such thing as writer’s block when we use others’ ideas to inspire us. Poetically speaking, I think most poets are like honey bees hungrily searching through a grand buffet of literature, film, and/or art for that speck of pollen we can turn into honey. Besides authoring two books, I had a lot to say and needed a way to say it, so I started experimenting with poetry.
But in truth, humans like to make everything a game especially writers and poets. We play connect-the-dots with words and feelings, paying close attention to the sound and flower of our memories, as well as their arrangement on the page. I play connect-the-dots with sentences, images, and/or word pictures.
I’m always looking for an initial thought burst, a memory, or a feeling I can blow out of proportion and use in a grand over-indulgent way when writing poetry. “You may discover your best poems while writing your worst prose,” says Joyce Carol Oates. “As soon as you connect with your true subject, you will write.”
If I had to describe my inner poet, I’d say he looked at the world a little eschewed. He lives patiently in me, giving me fragrant hope where there was once none. He inspired me to write although it never occurred to me I was a poet. I come by using words for healing by instinct.
I’ve read an author must be like God, present everywhere but visible nowhere. Somerset Maugham says, “If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.” Samuel Johnson says, “The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar, and familiar things new.”
When the right words come, they are as beautiful and unsought as country wildflowers. There are many ways of being artful. To write poetry I sometimes start out with the words, “I am…or I am silly…or I am afraid…or, I am not like anyone else. You can also write a Pet Peeve Poem, by reacting to a common, everyday annoyance like the phone ringing when you’re in the bathroom! Choose a subject that really irritates you enough to be memorable or humorous.
Decide if you want your poem to be serious, playful, or sarcastic. There is something about our milestones that beg to have their passes marked on paper even our annoyances and mishaps. Our only goal is to be truthful, and if we can fake that on paper, we’ve got it made. Mark Twain says, “Most writers regard the truth as their most valuable possession, and therefore, are most economical in its use. Elvis Presley says, “Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it isn’t going away.”
John F. Kennedy, speaking at the dedication of a library for Robert Frost, less than a month before he was murdered: “When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses, for art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment. —John Fitzgerald Kennedy October 26, 1963, Amherst College
John Fox at Poetic Medicine says, “What words roll off the tongue or look like treasures on the page waiting to be opened? What words excite you as you say them, make you want to laugh at their sound or shout them out?
Treat words as if they were paint, clay or wood; allow words to be a physical material to shape, mold, chisel, and blend. Liberate simple, seemingly ordinary words from the prison of habit (for instance, how they are used—or misused to make us consumers!) and free those words to breathe fresh air together.”
…say threshold, cottonmouth, Russian leather,
say ash, picot, fallow deer, saxophone, say kitchen sink.
This is a birthday party for the mouth—it’s better than ice cream,
say waterlily, refrigerator, hartebeest, Prussian blue
and the word will take you if you let it,
the word will take you along across the air of your head
so that you’re there as it settles into the thing it was made for,
adding to it a shimmer and the bird song of its sound…
—Marilyn Krysl from Saying Things