Wouldn’t every previous generation say that they lived in “perilous times” or as in the Tao, “interesting times” at the very least? So many of us have a connotation of poetry as an archaic (if not boring) language and irrelevant to “modern life.”
How do we get potential readers to cross that chasm of calcified thinking regarding poetry to a reinvigorated and revalued view of poetry? Is there a place in a relatively newly minted culture where poets and poetry are elevated, revered? That poetry activates both one’s emotions and values could be one reason that it isn’t welcomed in a society that wants to control its constituents. There isn’t often comfort in living outside the box. However, there is power in it.
How does anyone realize that within him/herself, perhaps a dormant inner poet or artist lives? Sometimes the inner poet comes to life out of despair. Nothing else seems to suffice. Nothing else calms or soothes. Sometimes, she is revived through love. Sometimes, it is when change is forced and the hand you’ve been dealt doesn’t seem to have an open door–poetry can provide the doorway.
Poetry is not only a bolster for the faint of heart. In fact, poetry is for everyone and especially in these times.
Consider Wendell Berry, novelist, poet, essayist, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer, an earth-connected poet of our times. I love his bit of a poem about salad…
“Wash your hands, get them good and clean,
Hurry and find a basket
Let us gather a salad, and so unite
To our passing lives this seasons fruit.”
How relevant is this four line stanza to your daily experience of life? These days, you better be sure to wash your hands! Of course, too many of us don’t have a garden to gather lettuce leaves for a salad. Perhaps there is a farmer’s market nearby or at least a marketplace that gives you that feeling. However, you gather your salad fixings, to pause and remember our unity to the food that we consume is like a prayer. Our lives are fleeting and the food we eat to sustain us lends quality to our lives (or it doesn’t)…well, it’s all expressed in this stanza.
Poetry can bring awareness and value to the things we take for granted. It provides the pause we need in our overly busy lives. Giving attention to such things makes for a more conscious society.