Poetry is more than words, so much more. Poetry is the stuff of life, the gritty, the pretty, the inane, the insane.
It is the sound of waves breaking against the shore, the honking of horns on a hot summer morn. It is the way of a skilled athlete carrying the ball to the goal; it is life, movement, grace, a way of seeing, hearing and feeling the world through a magical lens. A lens that translates the world sometimes with subtleness, sometimes with harshness, but always with poetic beauty.
I am a poet because I write poetry, some good, some ordinary. But I claim the poet as a proud archetype, not because I write but because I translate life, its joys and sorrows, through my heart, the most creative lens of all. My heart, better than my eyes, can focus on the black, white, grey, messy, complicated truth of life, and still somehow see the poetry in it all.
Sometimes, I wish my brain could catch up with this truth. Because, in spite of my experience, training, passion even, I know my words can never fully record what my heart sees and feels. But I’ll never stop trying to do it justice.
So this is my slow, Southern way of introducing my love of poetry, my love of life, to you. April is National Poetry Month and I am sharing my passion for poetry.
I remember one of my first poems. I wrote it as a 10-year-old after being inspired by a painting that hung on the den wall of my parent’s home. Here it is:
“The Old House”
In the old house,
I see but one light,
There are tales of that old house,
Which by now,
Is out of sight.
People have gone in,
But not one has come out.
Through the leaves,
Through the trees,
I see nothing of the old house.
I sent the poem to Scholastic Magazine hoping to have it published. I waited all summer for my letter, a form rejection thanking me for my submission. I was crushed.
Through high school I wrote poetry and recorded it into a journal I kept well-hidden from the prying eyes of my sisters and mother. I found that journal recently and debated sharing some of its contents here.
Why? Apparently, I was deep, dark and dramatic, dressed in knee socks and Catholic plaid skirts, Sylvia Plath in disguise, and my journal is the smoking gun.
I’ll share a tamer one, and no, I didn’t send it on to Scholastic Magazine. I wrote it on June 18,1973.
Watch it ignite
from the ashes
of my scorched and burnt dreams
Watch its blaze grow
feverishly from its embryonic stage,
rising forth in fiery passion,
in glorious confrontation.
Watch it spread itself
in a holocaust of heated anticipation,
its tongues of fury
raging and burning
as it intoxicates
my soul in its turmoil.
The poetry I write now is a mix of memories, musings and social observations, some light, some darker. (Click here for more recent work. ) But my greatest poem, my beautiful, messy masterpiece that is my life, is still in the works, and I am writing it
at a time.
And you? If you like poetry, or want to look at the world in a more creative light, check out www.Poets.org. Sign up for the daily poem service, which will deliver a little inspiration each morning to your inbox. It’s how I start my mornings.
And if you’ve wandered away from poetry over the years– or need encouragement to view life through the eyes of poetic grace– I’d like to invite you back into the fold with a few lines from one of my favorite poets and mystics, Rumi .
“Come, Come, Whoever You Are
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow
a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come. ” –Rumi
Who is your favorite poet? What is your favorite poem?
If you’re interested in more thoughts on integrity, compassion and grace–if you’re looking for exploratory questions to unearth pieces of your soul, check out my book Tao Flashes. Or visit me at http://www.facebook.com/taoflashes or on twitter @taoflashes.