A Quest to Evangelize for Poetry.

My blogging has not been consistent, but I think I found a cause today…it is an old cause, but a worthy one.  Poetry.

In my work as a writer and editor (for a small content creation/publishing company) I get to interact with words and craft language on a daily basis. I love my work… I really do. However it does fail to satisfy my needs personally, as a writer.

I write poetry.  Sometimes compulsively, and because that is how the language comes out of my head.  In writing a blog or book, I realized lately that the work is to fit my thoughts into proper sentences.  I can do it, but it is not how language flows best in my brain.

I have always written poetry, as long as I have had language in my brain.  I have a tiny fabric covered notebook that my mother gave me when I was maybe 3, and although I could not quite spell, I could express ideas phonetically. I started putting together stories of my pets, and poems about my daily life.  It is really funny to read, and I try to read it about once every year to see if I can still make it out.

I know that most people do not read poetry, and in fact do not like it…or so they think.  I believe that if readers were required to get through Song of Myself by Whitman, their opinion would change for good. I know that poetry is my most clear form of communication.  There is a distillation of language necessary in poem writing

I began 2014 trying to participate in a challenge of creating one Small Stone a day.  A small stone is a snapshot thought, and observation about the good in each day.  Haiku’s work well, or Ginsburg’s American Sentence form. I have liked trying to fit it into the 140 character count as I was posting them on Twitter too.   I did well for a bit, trying to write one every day, but then January was over.

But looking back on what I did write, I like it. I say this not out of arrogance, but out of the intense hatred I often feel toward anything I put on the page.  What I do like about the small stones I wrote is that they are distilled down to the least common denominator of words.  I can be a heavy handed wordy writer, but when I get into my poet brain what is necessary and good becomes clear.

My work here is to take that language distillation process and apply it to everything.  Yes, easier said than done, but I can do it, so why not do it more often?

Back to poetry love.  I read a blog this morning talking about the power of the spoken word, and the national Poetry Out Loud contest and program.  My classmate Andrea wrote this piece and her points on Whitman and the power of the spoken word are inspiring.  She talks of the iPad Air commercial with Robin Williams (as John Keating from Dead Poets Society) speaking Whitman.  The commercial is powerful independent of the product it is promoting.  And the words grab me out of the coma induced by the television every time.

She included a quote from the movie by Williams as Keating:

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race.”

I know this and feel this truth deep inside. But how to we help more readers come into the fold, into the cult of poem lovers?  What I know about poetry I want to help other people understand it to, to convert as many people into poetry followers as possible, but it is difficult. Giving kids early exposure to poetry is certainly a powerful tool.  The Poetry Out Loud program is certainly a good start. Maybe I can find a way to get involved next year.  I wish there was such a thing when I was in school.  But there is always time. We have every day to do better and to do more.

Yesterday I made the inspiring discovery of a rock artist who released her first album in 1970, and is about to release her second, at age 70. And she sounds incredible!  I was so blown away. I guess time is not running out, unless I decide that to be true.

So here is to having all time I want to have,  and making good art, writing good words.

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