Friday, December 17, 2010

To Ashley

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 Millay 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.

I write poetry because sometimes it takes me where I need to go, it says what I need to say, and it ALWAYS says more than the words alone say. Sometimes the meaning of the poem is in the white spaces between the words. And sometimes, after a poem is finished, I am as surprised as anybody at how it happens. It is a doorway. It is a small silence in which another voice may speak, and just sometimes, I do become all flame. It lets me say what I can't say any other way. It lets me be more than I am. And if you can pass the poem on to someone else, that's just gravy!

That is why I read poetry, that is why I write it.

Love, Gram Cracker


ms pie said...

thank you gram cracker.... i absolutely love that post... having recently found oliver i can appreciate her words more and more... i came here by way of waz his name the painter... mine enemy grows stronger... from a post a few years back... you know how it is when you start following a rabbit path... i have enjoyed visiting your blog and reading your posts... i will return again... bookmarked yr blog

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

Rick Mobbs. So happy you stopped by and liked what you saw! I've also bookmarked (and visited) yours. :D

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

BTW, "Gram Cracker" is what my granddaughter Ashley used to call me when she was little... (She's 14 now)