What is poetry? And...why?
I was inspired to write this while watching a talk hosted by Harvard Book Store on Poe's work.
On the muse:
"It's through the imagination that we resemble God"
Is writing merely:
"Rearranging elements that are already there"
Where does it come from?
"Chemistry of the intellect"
"If the mind is a mirror, reflecting the world..."
then the innate creativity of human nature is to produce some sort of art as a commentary on this suchness.
Brief Aside: In an effort to commit myself as fully as I have always wanted to my writing--my life's work--I will be publishing blog posts that reflect my thoughts, opinions, feelings, and questions that keep me up at night (which is saying something because I am a pretty good sleeper).
The reason I personally felt the need to explore this question is because I am a professional poet--yes, really.
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After some surveying the field, aka, asking the poets of Instagram*, there arose some common denominators in the opinions of practitioners.
1. It's a human thing, whether influenced by otherworldly beings or not; it is something like a compulsion, a need, a means of expression, or a tool.
2. We write to communicate either how we feel, or in order to reach someone else.
I am a believer in the sublime, the supernatural, the presence of something else. I know my writing is influenced by this presence. This must be a historical fact: the world's most profound writing has come from heartache, work that is so rich in human experience that is has the effect of feeling alien (from our ego or sense of self) on the page. Who or What causes us to show this tenderness with words?
Fleetwood's - Asheville, North Carolina, 2019
Pictured with me here is my dad, a lifelong rock and roll fan who played records all day long while I was growing up. I internalized much of Bob Dylan (even as prolific as he is), that 20-minute long Thanksgiving song, and half-listened to all the classics. Today my dad runs a radio station called Chestnut Radio. He is truly dedicated to it, finding a way to make sure it's on-air 24/7 with whatever technical setup he's working with at the time, even living at a 45-minute drive removed from civilization. He also DJs monthly at a kava bar in Asheville, North Carolina.
I bring up my dad to show my earliest influences on rhythm and words. Especially when I struggled to fit in and express myself, being able to write freed up some of that gunk from residual judgmental from my peers.
I attended a boarding school during part of my sophomore and junior year of high school (it's definitely not the kind you're thinking of--but that's another conversation altogether). I admittedly did not apply myself much to academics, but I soon became known as a poet, only after composing my first ever poem, "As Light as a Feather" for my first girlfriend--actually it was her writing assignment that I did for her. After she briefed me on the assignment and what she wanted to express, I began writing in the hallway, kneeling with the pencil in hand finding the rhymes and syllabification coming effortlessly (as if from a muse). I wrote the piece in only a few minutes. I had never felt so energized, concentrated, and right. "Done!" I held it up to her, read it out loud, and swiftly declared it my masterpiece (ha-ha!).
The eccentric poetry teacher, known only by her first name, Clema, gifted me two poetry books, rather abstract work, a little racy, but wonderful and great reading material to study for the style I was developing. She wasn't even my teacher, actually, but I suspect she knew I actually wrote the poem my girlfriend turned in.
Perhaps the more important question is never the What but rather the Why. Maybe poetry should be defined as: it just hurts so good.
*those that I know personally that responded to the post I made: "What IS poetry?"
In the future, I will publish new blog posts on Fridays. These posts are meant as low-stakes opportunities to communicate ideas and elaborate on things generally related to QWERT Poetry, poetry at large, entrepreneurship, and the arts. None of what I post here should be considered an expert opinion, unless you want it to be ;).