Poetry Today (in Perilous Times) 2

Poets, writers, artists have a three-fold purpose as I see it:
1) the task of witnessing.  2) the task of writing it down or rendering it in some creative way.  3) sharing what they’ve written or created as a result of witnessing.  They’ve then come full circle with their particular art.

Within it, poetry has the imperative to share a message.  That message is intended to be evocative.  To awaken in the reader some of the same emotions that the witness/writer has experienced in putting pen to page.  A writer or painter can never be guaranteed that her audience is going to feel the exact same emotion.”  They can’t be attached to the outcome or response to their piece once it is released.  Fly away little bird.  But they must release it and allow it to affect and influence whoever it might, however it may.

Poets write about anything.  Poetry can express everything.  It is rare that the reader is privy to what precisely preceded the poet writing a particular poem.

I painted a piece with fish as the theme.  I don’t remember why I chose to paint these fish.  As I stood back from it and studied it, I felt tranquility.  It was exploratory.  But it didn’t have pop!  Not enough value contrast.  Or cohesion.  It prompted this poem, regardless.

A Quiet Wonder
© by Christine O’Brien

Underwater Kingdoms
Civilizations that we can’t comprehend
the sheen of scales
glint of colors
that stun in light’s glory
the silver trails through
unimaginable depths
the flash of a tail–
fish or mermaid
who is to say
for certain things
happen in depths
where humans
dare not go
we can’t all be Cousteau
though at times
if you’re at all
contemplative
you dive deep
into the dark waters
into what you’ve not known
beyond fears that taunt
and perhaps discover
another side
a way through
a quiet wonder

If this poem causes the reader to pause and contemplate something beyond their norm, then it has succeeded.
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Permissive Poetry

An intrinsic premise of poetry is the permission and freedom to TELL THE TRUTH!

When I first began writing poetry, I was in a state of unrest.  Old inner worlds were crumbling as new ones were being born.  What I had built my life structure upon was proving false.  What was trying to form was insubstantial and unknown.

Poetry can chart the course between what is known
and what is unknown.

Do you think this statement is true?  It isn’t the route for everyone, but it certainly has been the permission-giver for me.

In those days, while I might not speak my truth to my husband or father (both of whom inspired fear), I found I could write it (finally) in my journals.  And then, poetry entered my life.  A form that could hold both emotion and unravelling beliefs and the uncertainty of what was next.  Pretty amazing.  And it could do all of this in a succinct way!

Throughout known history, poetry has been the “go to” for sensitive souls.  The minstrels were the storytellers, often in rhyme or rhythm.  The poets were the sensitive touchstones of a particular era and culture.  They could talk about what was right, wrong, intolerable both personally and in the context of the larger society.

Poets and artists are the heart of any culture or era.  They are the sensitive underbelly and resonate with deepest feeling and often, what the culture needs to embody or embrace in order to healthfully evolve.

Writing Prompt:
This is my perception of permissive poetry.  Has poetry, whether you read it or write it yourself, given you permission to tell the truth?

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The Versatility of Poetry

This is one reason I love poetry.  It can hold any subject.  Poetry is both amorphous and  it can claim a form.  It’s a perfect container for a variety of human expression.

the fog weaves through city streets
in and out of the avenues
twining round golden gate bridge towers
dampening moods and refreshing spirits
what season is it, I ask
summer you say, summer in San Francisco
coaxing one to build a fire on the hearth and cuddle
fog deceiving one into false seasons
Is it love I feel for you or
simply lust
long shrouded desire
and you the sun that penetrated my dark nights
stripping me of my clothes, my inhibitions,
tricking my hormones into believing I was unseasonal
everlasting
and so sexy

© by Christine O’Brien

In this short verse excerpted from a poem I wrote entitled Weather Report, notice how a story is told using place and mood.

Were you drawn into the story via the setting?

Each and every poem has a point of entry.  As does any story.  The writer and/or poet gets to decide what that entry point is.

Writer’s Prompt:
Experiment with using a place as the point of entry to your own poem as you write about an emotion you are feeling.

Follow the flow of your writing.

 

A Pang

Pang:  “A sudden sharp pain or emotion”

I was looking for a low rim dish to marinate the al dente asparagus.  I looked through a storage bin in the garage and then remembered a shallow plate my mother had given me a long time ago.  I knew where it was but had forgotten why I never used it.

I retrieved it from the top shelf in one of the kitchen cabinets.  I rinsed it off and read the name of the porcelain producer on the back.  Christineholm, it read.  Then, there it was the pang!  Urgh.  A sort of a bittersweet feeling accompanied by a wave of thoughts.  Did my mother buy this dish with me in mind?  Did she save it for me all those years?  Was she waiting for me to notice the name on the back of the quiche plate?  To bake her a quiche in it perhaps?

I won’t ever know her thoughts.  When she gave me the dish, we were barely connecting as Mother and Daughter.  We weren’t exactly estranged…we just didn’t seem to be on the same wavelength.  And, my father was the huge wedge in her relationship with any of her nine children.

As I lay the asparagus in the plate, poured the homemade marinade over the top, covered the dish with Glad wrap and put it in the refrigerator for later, the pang persisted.  And a sort of lump in my throat.neo1.jpg

Writing Prompt:
How do you hold these sudden emotions?  How do you respond to the questions that arise?  How do you navigate this rocky terrain?  How do you communicate with those who are gone?  Does writing help?