Arms open wide

September 15, 2010

To respond to Amanda, no, I don’t believe that a poet needs to be a bit squirrely to produce “staggeringly excellent” poems.  It’s just that so many poets/artists/musicians do have their problems.  (And friendships with them are probably painful.) 

If their visions do produce poems, sometimes those poems are not excellent.  They simply stagger.  Those kinds of poems have to be mended and tended, in order to make them comprehensible.  Audre Lorde in her essay says, “We can train ourselves to respect our feelings and to discipline (transpose) them into a language that catches those feelings so they can be shared.”

And isn’t communication what poetry is about?  The poet may be a lonely Who shouting at Horton—I’m here!  Or the poet may have felt, learned or remembered something that he or she must share, or else die.  In her essay, Adrienne Rich describes poetry as a method for “call[ing] up images that were in danger of being forgotten or unconceived.” 

As for the reader of poetry, he or she is hoping to find communication, as well.  Connection, comprehension, cohesion.  Not every poem is for every reader, but I believe that for every reader, there is a poem, and for every poem, there is a reader.

Poems are sent out into the world like dandelion fluff.  They drift.  Sometimes they land on someone’s cheek, and tickle.

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