Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Why I Read A Poem

Being a poet, and here’s the shocker…I read a lot of poetry! Like others may read the daily news journals, or a favorite author's newest novel, I devour poems. I go to poems for the news from the ever-wonder filled universe, to connect to other human beings. I go to view life from the angle of Louises Gluck, Robert Bly, Ted Kooser, Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry and Lisel Mueller. Of course Ray Bradbury, Dan Chaon, Tennessee Williams and other fine short fiction writers color my world. Yet nothing compares to “having the top of my head torn off” by a poem. Last night before bed I was reading from “Risking Everything 110 poems of Love and Revelation edited by Roger Housden” and came across these lines from T.S. Eliot’s We Shall Not Cease:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

For me that is one reason I need poetry, it is like the refresh button on my computer. What is found in poems refreshes my awareness which has been deadened and dulled by the repeated waves of the mundane monotonies of life on earth. The unecesary necessaries of the day-to-day that weigh us down like stones in our pockets. Poetry for me is the kiss in the center of a bad dream, is the answered prayer in the middle of the struggle. Poetry’s power is to help me “know the place for the first time” however many millions of times I have visited there. “There” being the ability for me to observe another person expression of happiness or suffering as if it were my own, or to feel the presence of the natural world all around, knowing that I am a part of this living force. Not a god ruling above it. I can feel the whimsy of a child’s mind seeing existence anew. I can learn to crack the code of the invisible, which is what real life is all about. The invisible of love, faith, spirit, goodness, imagination and the river flow of eternity that flows under this brief bridge of flesh in which we daily stand. So please try it once, read a poem or a few and sand blast the veneer of a sluggish mind content on sleep walking through another vanilla day.


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