Poetry: What’s the Point?

It’s poetry month, and I’ve been doing NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month). Each morning, I grab my phone, check out the day’s prompt, ignore the prompt (usually) and then write a poem or three.

Most of them are about my brother (big surprise) or somehow twist their way back to him, meaning, I suppose, that I’m working on a new collection (news about my second collection – previously titled Migration – coming soon). Lately, they seem to be spilling metaphors of eggs and birds – magpies, red-winged black birds, and ravens have made an appearance, as have regular chicken eggs.

Most are written in the second-person, meaning that I’m writing directly to him, which is so incredibly cathartic.

I’m reminded – again – of the deep importance of poetry, of what it’s for, of how it helps us say the things that cannot be said in regular language, to connect to the deepest things of life, to turn those huge, seemingly unmouth-able human experiences like grief and deep joy and trauma into profound gems of word-truth.

In her Walrus talk, my good friend, Micheline Maylor, self-described “poetry fanatic” and poet laureate of Calgary (and, of course, fine poet) explains the magic of poetry as a thing that, “makes our lives bigger through its expansiveness.”

Here’s what else she says:

Poetry’s magic is universal. In all times and in all cultures, poetry exists because of the way it is connecting the unsayableness of human emotion to language. Poet Charles Simic says, The highest levels of our own consciousness are word-less so poetry becomes an expression of our wonderment and the combined craft of making language and expression beautiful and artful.

I like this: the ‘unsayableness’ (which auto-corrects here to ‘unstableness’, an interesting collision of ideas in itself), because that’s something we all experience: those things that take awhile to get our brains around, that we strive to “process” but, really, won’t ever be able to… so of course something like poetry would help – both writing it and reading it, in order to feel that quick, sharp spark of wonderment in the understanding that another person has felt this too and magically managed to describe it.

If you live in The Pas, I’ll be reading some of these recent poems (and possibly prose and older poetry) at the UCN Language Arts Festival (April 25-26) and at a League of Canadian Poets reading on April 27th at 7 p.m. at The Pas Regional Library. Poets Ariel Gordon, Duncan Mercredi, and David G. Williamson will also be appearing at several of these events, as well as other writers.

In the meantime, to celebrate this month when we recognize poetry, why not write a poem yourself (and, no, it doesn’t need to rhyme)? You can follow the prompts through NaPoWriMo or here’s another great list of prompts to help fire your creativity.

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One Response to Poetry: What’s the Point?

  1. Renee April 16, 2017 at 3:49 pm #

    Unmouth-able human experiences. Unsayableness. Yes.
    I love how you are writing to your brother and how good it is for you.
    Love how you and others put it out there for the rest of us to enjoy.
    I am looking forward to your new collection Migration.
    I have been working on a “collection” recently and i am talking to my mom in it. So much to tell her.
    I am hoping to come to the event on the 27th.

I would love to hear what you think!

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