I’ve been a poet and a writer all my life. Growing up I wrote poems in journals, on post-it notes, in thank-you cards and letters. Words sprawled across pages, some of them unbearably cheesy, corny, angsty, particularly as I got to high school. For years I have been honing my craft, and I continue to do so. Poetry is a process and has no endpoint. I’ll admit that the mutability of poetry is part of its allure, the siren’s song that has drawn me to it.
Poetry puts to words that which is undefinable. A poem can do so much more to a series of simple phrases just by the act of being a poem. Poetry is itself an act. A poem is meant to be spoken; words poured out of the mouth of the poet for us to hear. And yet so many poems are beautiful and rich in ways that can only be conveyed when they are read silently, the words reverberating through one’s mind as they ebb and flow across the page. Their stretching, forming unique sounds in the ears of every listener, heard only by them.
And yet for all that poetry is a unique experience, the joy that comes in sharing poetry is something that cannot be understated. At Mass Poetry, which is where I work my “day job” we believe that poetry catalyzes connection and understanding. I find this sentiment vital and have incorporated it into my everyday conception of the world from the moment I heard it — because in truth it was already there.
Poetry is something that lives in my soul. When I am lost, poetry is what finds me and what pulls me out of the dark. At my lowest points it has been reading and writing poetry which has lifted me up. Sure, this makes for some angsty poems that will never see the light of day, but because of those poems I will.
I would be remiss to leave out music when writing of this. Music is, of course, one of the most prolific forms of poetry. For what is a song, but a poem put to a melody? I’ve often thought of songs and poems as one and the same, and the precedent is undeniably there. As I’ve said, poetry is meant to be heard. The epic poems of Homer were songs, after all “Sing to me, muse…”
When people say that they hate poetry, but they love music, I am always quietly bemused. Music is poetry in one of its purest forms. The capacity for music to bring people together is widely acknowledged, and I find it a shame that the same is not always done for poetry.
The ways that music and poetry have been continually manipulated, the innovations created by people exploring new forms of expression are so expansive it utterly takes my breath away. The sheer creativity, the capacity that people have to share themselves in these forms, breaking molds and reshaping them are entrancing. Sometimes I wonder what the point is of trying to share anything new when there is so much out in the world. The thing is, whether a poem is about a devastating breakup or about a dislike of cucumbers, every poem is at its heart unique to the individual, because only they could have written it. And that? I wouldn’t change for the world.
P.S. If you’re a poet and/or poetry lover like me, I highly recommend you check out the Massachusetts Poetry Festival that Mass Poetry is virtually hosting from May 13-16, 2021. You can find out more information and register for the Festival at festival.masspoetry.org!