Notes on Poetry

November 9, 2008

Poetry has many forms. Even no form at all is a valid format and can be full of meaning. The same poem can even mean different things to different people. That is what I like best about it, its openness to interpretation and feeling. For a poem to evoke a feeling in you, there has to be an underlying truth in it.

I was writing a friend this morning and commenting on her poetry. It occurred to me poets display bravery with regard to sharing emotions. You have to be brave, some would say reckless, with your emotions to share them so. Poetry involves the deepest reaches of the heart. Lost love, pain and abuse are frequent topics and the emotion within is easy to understand. In the happier topics, the poet’s heart can be harder to see but it is there.

For me the generally happy themes are more telling about the finer points of feeling. Look at it this way, we all can readily see and understand grief and sorrow whether one shows it or is more stoic. Happiness is reflected in other ways, a sly smile or a twinkle in the eye. How can you see that in a poem? I really don’t have the answers but I know you can. Next time you read a upbeat poem, think of the poet, you will see a hint of a smile in your mind.

I had a hard time describing myself as a poet a while back. It just seems so presumptuous. Over time I have come to realize that a poet is simply a person that expresses emotion with words. After hundreds of poems under my belt, I can look back and see that is true for me. I no longer have a problem claiming to be a poet, after all, to paraphrase Uncle Bill, “A rose by any other name is still as sweet!”

As it is I am happy with being just a poet – Poets may not change the world, but we do start the small quiver in the snow that becomes the avalanche of change. That is enough for me.

Poetry’s Truth

The poet may hide
this is true
but that’s not the point
for me and you.

Look to the work
not the hand
for there rests the truth
on which poets stand.

Truth is for each
depends on the eye
the way that we see
splits truth from lie.

The poet’s a tool
belongs to the words
there is the truth
the rest is for birds.

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