Monday, 15 April 2013

Poetry & The Poetic (In Other Words, Poetry is for Everyone!)

 'A song of the rolling earth, and of words according,
Were you thinking that those were the words, those upright lines? those
     curves, angles, dots?
No, those are not the words, the substantial words are in the ground and sea,
They are in the air, they are in you.' ~ Walt Whitman, 'Song of the Rolling Earth'

Ok, so not everybody's into poetry. I know it, I get it, but I do dedicate a lot of time trying to change it!

Why? Because poetry is not what they think! It's not boring, it's not elitist, it's not posh, it's not la-de-dah, it's not just for old people/academics/readers etc, it's not intimidating.... I have gone over this argument many times before so I'll not repeat myself now, except to say that:

Poetry is a type of writing that measures the pulse of life.  Therefore it's alive. It vibrates with emotion. Want to know how you're feeling? Check the barometer of verse. Want a handle on what the heck is going on in your head/heart? Go to a poem. Fed up? Let poetry inject a dash of va-va-voom into you. Wondering, despondent, at what's it all about? Seek out a poem - it has a good degree of the answers. Or even, want to read something fun, have a laugh? Go to a poem, a short, humorous one. It'll make you laugh, and think at the same time, but most importantly - feel. 

Cause poetry is all about feeling. That's it. 

Fancy feats of linguistic trapeze may appeal to some poets (we love language you see, love testing it to see what it can do), but really, at its core, as its raison d'etre, poetry offers a template to get at the things that really matter in life (hence, it's more about communication than creating riddles) and that's why it matters to so many people. 

Hmm... I might have piqued some of your interest with that, but not all I'm sure. So I'm gonna come at it in a new way here in this post. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the Poetic. Da-da-da-dah - drumroll please! The Poetic is first cousin to poetry. Here, let me explain:

Poetic, adj
1. Of or relating to poetry
2. Having a quality or style characteristic of poetry
3. Suitable as a subject for poetry
4. Of, relating to, or befitting a poet
5. Characterized by romantic imagery
6. having or expressing the qualities of poetry (as though aesthetic or emotional impact)
7.displaying the beauty, imaginative qualities, etc. found in good poetry

The Poetic is the one we're all familiar with. What exactly is 'poetic' I hear you ask and how are we familiar with the poetic? Well, ask yourself this: Have you ever stopped to gaze at a sunset and admire the colourful beauty? Or how about the sun itself, and remark upon what a beautiful day it is? Has your heart ever skipped a beat at the sight of someone you love? Do you marvel at a smile? Have you ever described something as 'beautiful' - be it a person, a painting, a rug, a shrug, a facial feature, a day, a flower, a food? Well, they're all touches of the poetic.  

The poetic is that significant otherness: beauty, meaning, awe, mattering. The poetic is that which lifts us above our daily routines and untethers us from flat head-to-ground attitudes; it is a glimpse of something else, something higher, which we usually comprehend not with our heads, but our hearts. In other words - poetry - just in a less wordy form. 

And we all need this form of poetry in our lives. It's the stuff that makes life worthwhile, a smile, a chink of sunlight, the sweet delirium of romance, the sight of a field of flowers, the rustle of waves, a moonlit night, possibility, happiness, the revelations of beauty. This line from the film 'Dead Poet's Society' sums it up best: 

So you see, don't let the word 'poetry' frighten you! Ok, so you may not be ready to dip your nose in a book of poetry just yet (but, if you feel so inclined , try an anthology first! There are collected editions of poems for bad times, good times, love times, practically everything! I'd recommed 'Staying Alive' - the best of poems for living that are guaranteed to hit you hard in the gut, heart and head). That's ok. Just stick with the poetic. Notice it. Appreciate it. And know, that poetry is just the wording of it. Just the wording of it, the verbalising, the writing part of it. 

Allen Ginsberg once said that  poetry is 'that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that's what the poet does.'  Making the private world public. The poetic refers to this private world we all dwell in, our innermost thoughts and feelings. Poetry just gives voice to this world, in a language that is tempered to hit us hard, to appeal to both our minds and our hearts, a strong undistilled language that may riddle at first, but ultimately, enlightens, enlivens, enchants. 

Poetry is all around us and within us in the shape of the 'poetic'; poetry merely is the medium that renders this. It's like as Walt Whitman says, the real words, 'the substantial words' are in ' the ground and sea, They are in the air, they are in you.' Poetry, is everywhere. And all of us, read it in some shape or form. So why should we grimace at the written form of it?



  1. I adore poetry. It brings music and passion to language. Im with you all the way Siobhán :)

  2. Thanks Juliette! It does indeed. Here's to Poetry! :)


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