Note: This is a guest post by Vic Vosen – a writer, reader, and slam participant – of Eye of the Storm.
“You need nothing more to write poems than bits of string and thread and some dust from under the bed”
“Poets are soldiers that liberate words from the steadfast possession of definition.”
“Appreciating poetry is probably like appreciating anything else. It means having the generosity to let a thing be what it is, the patience to know it, a sense of the mystery in all living things, and a joy in new experience.”
You have a flash of insight, a metaphor for understanding electricity as water, a parallel to existence or just an inside reflection on what is wrong/right with the world. I've sat at this lake before the waterfall waiting for hours for more to follow, but that's it and I start thinking about something else or worse, nothing at all, and then I forget what helped put the world in perspective.
Like journal writing, poetry can help record those thoughts and special insights in helping forge your feelings into a perspective so that you can start coming to terms with it, rather than having it subvert back to the inertia that carried the feeling or idea to consciousness to begin with. This can help you come to terms with the idea/feeling itself, to move forward with your growth as living human being. How? you ask?
1. It builds your brain.
The power of the metaphor, simile, parallel… figurative language is not only a good way to put things into perspective, but metaphors are easier to remember than a complex set of interactions. This is a way to grasp deeper meaning from perhaps a very mundane, or complex identity. It builds an understandable identity with which to contrast that is easier to grapple and engage in, in the process building pathways in your brain that would have been stopped cold otherwise.
And poetry exercises this muscle by encouraging figurative language providing a sounding ground for your ideas, feelings, reminiscences by putting them into a concrete perspective.
2. It's therapeutic.
A dialog of one is still a dialog, and like journal writing provides an amiable outlet to vent our feelings. Not only that but we end up with something that is tangible and durable product of the struggle while coming to terms with it.
It is something we can show off, or keep around for a rainy day to either entertain ourselves, work on, or reminisce what you were thinking that day when you wrote it. It's a little snapshot of your soul and what you were thinking when writing it.
This can grow into something new as you revise and/or write more as a poem can be never really finished. Thus it has the possibility of being exhaustless, while providing a forum for expression & understanding.
3. That tool you've developed is versatile.
Once you get the hang of writing poetry, there's almost nothing you can't do with it. It is an alternative form of communication. If you don't believe me just look at all the greeting cards out there with this wit or wisdom scrolled up in Gothic lettering on every subject. It is a font of the English language, it's just up to you what you want to put it up to.
I've written poems to magazines urging articles, I've used them to barter services and better grades in classes, I've written them to girlfriends. I've gotten people to laugh. They can be as complex or simple as you want to make them into, and I've found any place that required a logical argument, could always be appended with a poem in favor/or against something as well to clarify the position/picture, because after all, it's just communication if on a more deeper level.
4. It encourages deeper intrapersonal relationships.
As you write, not only do ideas bloom, but you do also. Your vocabulary gets broader, your understanding about relationships between ideas grows and how this affects you and the world comes closer together. My biggest problem in dealing with people was not knowing whom I was, somewhere between egoless and consumer. Writing poetry enables the I in Identity, from which you can clearly communicate the you to the you in someone else.
People aren't always going to be able to understand you, but writing poetry gives you an opportunity for personal space in which to critically think while expressing yourself to others in a coherent picture. Doesn't mean you'll come off all-knowing and wise, but that you'll be given an opportunity to effectively communicate at your own pace which can come at a premium in this busy world.
5. You are opening yourself up to a wealth of human knowledge
By writing, you are doing the legwork in understanding other poets. There are as many ways to read poetry as there are people, but when you start thinking in a language are you more easily able to understand another in that language. There are thousands of poets and each of them write to different aim. Figurative language, prosody, sonics, description, narrative are all a language unto themselves and some will come easier for you to write than others, as well as understand. Poetry is a forum for exchange, not a universal language.
Writing poetry strengthens your reasoning and in so doing, your comprehension in just what that author means when he claims, all was mimsy in the borogroves. Best of all, it's a free exchange of ideas.. there are thousands of websites and forums on the web and each have groups of people to interact and engage, both dead and alive, across the centuries from ancient Rome to the current Poet Laureate of the United States.
Vic Vosen is a writer, reader, and slam participant currently bonded in slavery as a mudlogger to the petroleoum industry from his education costs. He posts on Usenet forums, a blog, and various poetry web forums in his exploration and development of metaphor and sound.