Poetry and the Common Ground

Poetry takes the everyday events and elevates them. Poetry takes the extraordinary events and translates them into something relatable. Poetry can be anything from passion overflowing on a page to a quiet meander beside a forest stream. Poetry is inherently an avenue for self-discovery and deepening. It fosters relationality with the reader.

Where do poets come from? Years ago, in my late thirties, I returned to college. I signed up for a women’s re-entry program with a designated curriculum. Creative Writing was one of the classes. Within this writing class was a segment on poetry. Poetry had always seemed unattainable–both in deciphering what the poet intended to say and in writing my own pen-to-page poem. I hadn’t realized that at this single moment in time, poetry was exactly what I needed. In the morning, I’d roll out of bed onto the floor. Poems gushed from me into my notebook! I was astonished. Suddenly, I who had been brought up to be seen and not heard couldn’t stop writing poetry. Poetry provided an opportunity to write about my life and to integrate the experiences of my life. The poetess in me was born!

Awhile later, I read some of my poetry in intimate circles, then in front of larger audiences. Typically, the women in the audience connected with my words, with me through my words. While the poet and/or writer writes alone, the words of one woman’s experience, my experience, created a common ground–a place of recognition for the listeners. When shared, the poetry became a link between me and other women who know what it is to be a woman in these times. The struggle to claim one’s own identity, to find her voice, to grow out from under the societal expectations of what it is to be a woman–i.e., the common ground. Bringing light to what has bound us, vanquishing the inner shackles that don’t encourage our wholeness, our truth–now laid out before you and me through a poem. How grateful I am to have found this voice in me.

Writing poetry, we don’t merely look and see something objectively. We become deep see-ers. The writer connects with her subject in a visceral way. The poem then has the capacity to bring the reader into the experience. Another crucial thing, when we see deeply and connect with something outside of us, we establish a relationship with it. From that perspective, we begin to see it’s value and the part that it plays in our lives.

Poetry has the capacity to connect us to the themes of our lives–and there lies the common ground once again. We each have life themes that we share in common–birth, death, love, angst, hope, freedom, faith, fear, trauma, renewal, grief, quandaries, and more.

****
What is the value in claiming your inner poet in the world today? Your inner poet is a soulful creature. Engaging soulful awareness of yourself widens the opportunity to do so with others and of what we name as inanimate. Everyone and everything becomes more than merely players and props. The inanimate is then valued and we begin to care more deeply. Things are not there only for our pleasure, entertainment or consumption. They are appreciated for what they intrinsically are. And then, there’s the possibility of fully embracing the earth that is our very sustenance.

****
What is the poetry that connects you to yourself, your neighbor, to other women or men, to the earth, to life? Trust poetry to provide the common ground.


On the Surface

This looking and seeing is a theme I visit on occasion.  Perhaps it’s only a mind game yet…is it a worthy one?

****
I look.  I see something.  Based on what I expect to see, studies have shown that I confirm my already-formed perceptions.  It is comforting to me to imagine that what I see gives confirmation to what I perceive or believe to be so.  If my preformed perceptions are confirmed, I often don’t look any deeper.

These preformed perspectives help me to navigate through my life.  It can be personally challenging for anyone to entertain another perspective or opinion because we count on our prepackaged viewpoints.  I unconsciously give myself confirmation that what I see is the way it really is.  To consider another perspective or to go below the surface of my thoughts or beliefs, I would have to be very flexible.  This sort of shift creates an instability.  Few people are comfortable with instability.  I don’t want disruption and chaos.  No way!

Assuming that how I see something is the way it actually is, I rarely consider that you might see something entirely different and that to you, it is also true.

Contemplation:
If you went below the surface of your perceptions, what might you discover?

hollyhoc1.jpg

 

“This Is I Who…”

Repetition is a writer’s and poet’s deepening tool.  I said, “Repetition is a writer’s and poet’s deepening tool.”  Repetition is a way of giving emphasis and getting someone’s attention.  The repeated line typically begins each new stanza.
The lead line is a driving and deepening force for me as the writer. For the reader, it provides a rhythm and induces a trance-like quality when reading the poem.

I do not know who originated this writing exercise.  I only know that I have borrowed it. I thank the author and if I could give you credit, I certainly would because it is very important to me to give credit where it is due.  This exercise makes good use of repetition.  Here is my version of a poem using repetition; it is neither edited nor crafted yet.  It is actually stream of consciousness about the way I begin a new day.  The one borrowed and repeated line is “This is I who…”  Please note that sometimes the repeated line can be implied and not actually stated.

****

This is I who…
lies in bed amidst the tumbled-down covers and forgotten dreams,
cranky like a flower bud pried open too soon.  I who would like to curl backwards into the secure fist of sleep and let the world do what it does…”call me when the war is over”.

This is I who…
says a prayer to my God of choice, not chance “…and let it be a good day.  Let me be respectful of self and other…” as I stretch into my feet, arms raised in a half-hazard salute, twirling my legs over the side of the bed, sitting upright.  Smiling at my reflection in the passing mirror on my way to the bathroom…hair spiky like liberty herself, skin less green.

This is I who…
sock-footed, pads  to the kitchen to brew that first cup of Argentinian Yerba Mate, promise of mental clarity and sustained physical energy.  Returning to bed with the blue and white dragon cup, made in China, set prestigiously on the nightstand.  My latest knitting project pulled onto my lap like a recalcitrant cat…knit and purl, knit and purl, knit and purl to end of row.

who…
slinks into my leotards, flicks on the tv like an automatic friend.  “Bend your elbows, fists clenched, arms pulled back, breathe in.”

I who…
boils water, 1/3 cup of oats with raisins.  Toasts a fistful of almonds, sprinkles wheat germ and nutritional yeast, a splash of soymilk.

This is I who partakes.

This is I who am grateful.

Let the games begin.

****

WRITING PROMPT

Try it…write your own poem or prose with the lead line THIS IS I WHO…” or any lead line of your choice.  Enjoy where you go with this.

flower