Wednesday, January 24, 2007

PT: Why I Love Poetry


You know, the number of people who love poetry is about the same as the number of people who love to wear Davy Crockett hats. So we are a rare and wonderful people!
I think I was, maybe 9 or 10 when I discovered poetry let you say things you could say no other way, and when I was 15 or so, I found that poetry offered a way of understanding things I never understood before. Poetry sparked a new way of feeling, of insights and images I had never imagined: that someone could write The force that through the green fuse drives the flower/ Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees/ Is my destroyer moved me to tears.

Edna St Vincent was my first love. Dylan Thomas was my second. After that there were suddenly too many to count, like stars on a good night, after the first one or two.

Mary Oliver writes of praying in words I think apply to poetry as well:

It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but a doorway

into thanks, and a small silence in which
another voice may speak.

Like Abbe Joseph says in The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, stretching his hands toward heaven, his fingers like ten lamps of fire, "If you will, you can become all flame." And we all understand what that is like, don't we? And we've all come through the doorway into thanks, and most of us have found the silence in which another voice may speak....

And if this isn't clear enough to be useful to you, stick around. Hopefully one day it will be, and you can become "all flame."

Just pay attention.

.

23 comments:

pepektheassassin said...

I KNOW. There's too many words.

Anonymous said...

Perfectly expressed. Visiting you blog is alway an enriching experience.

Anonymous said...

Yes, just pay attention. Beautiful post.

Anonymous said...

Mary Oliver says it so well... this isn't a contest but a doorway...
I loved this.

Anonymous said...

I agree with reginga about the Mary Olier quote. I also think that the way that you say that your first love was millay, and your second was another poet is great. I wrote thius and then realized that you are set to only accept blogger comments. grrr.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post - I love "This isn't a contest but a doorway..." that eases my pain so much, just that one small line. And there: the magic of poetry.

Anonymous said...

Yes! So much of poetry is about paying attention. And I love that you quoted Dylan Thomas.

Excellent post, my dear!

Norma said...

A wonderful post--like stars in the night, I like that.

My PT is up. I was way over 153 words.

Anonymous said...

Great post! I recognized all of those stages of coming to poetry that you describe so well. I like that you worked in some reminders to all of us about not only "why" we love poetry, but also "how" to proceed with this love. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Lovely post and the Mary Oliver poem is wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I agree, that bit by Mary Oliver was lovely, and really does apply to poetry for me too.
I think a lot more people out there like poetry than *realize* they like poetry. Most picture books for kids and folk songs are really poetry (put to pictures or music); I think maybe some people lose touch with poetry as they get older.

Anonymous said...

You are a prayer answered, dear friend. Dear friend who I've never met..may never meet...but would always regognize, for her coon skin Davey Crocket hat.

thanks for always inspiring and encouraging.

Anonymous said...

I'll be paying attention. :) Great post. And I'll get better, too - thanks for stopping by. It's just a little cold. I hope you're having a nice vacation -- what a cute little grandson you have! (as I'm sure you know) Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

You have captured the essence so beautifully. You are a flame indeed! Thank you.

pepektheassassin said...

Thanks everyone for your kind comments--nice to hear from you! I finally (maybe) figured out how to do the link thing...we'll see if it works again next thursday.

I agree that "pay attention" is great advice for all writers. Maybe "Take Notes" would be a close second. (Tho' I do not often do this).

pepektheassassin said...

slynne, your comment showed up, blogger be damned!

(?)

pepektheassassin said...

wendy--you never know....keep your eyes peeled.

(Isn't THAT a gross cliche!?)

Anonymous said...

Beautifully put - making anything I could say on the whole subject irrelevant - you've already said it!

Anonymous said...

(keep your eyes peeled is the cliche I did for PT!) heh.

Tammy said...

"Poetry is like praying" is a really cool way to think of poetry. I'm sure God would enjoy my prayer requests more if I prayed poetically ;) Well done!

pepektheassassin said...

tammy--Nah. I think God appreciates anything we manage to say--sort of in the same way He appreciates when we notice the color purple.

Anonymous said...

I used to have a Davy Crockett hat and I made sure my kids got them too! Some carpenters that were working remodeling my mom and dad's house called me Davy back in the day because I always wore my hair in a pony tail!and had bangs and I guess it looked like I was wearing a Davy Crockett hat! I LOVE Mary Oliver, I'll be posting another one of her poems! I've got to get one of her books! altho I might not get out for a coonskin because it is really snowing here today! I'm not getting cabin fever yet! Happy Tuesday! xo, Cinda

Vonspreezenburger said...

Looking for a good book of poetry? Try Cathy Smith Bowers' "Book of Minutes." It's funny and heartfelt--so good that even my dog got her. And what's more, I may have too.

A little restless? Take it to the next level at my dog's blog:
http://reallykindasortatotallystupid.blogspot.com/