Poetry fascinates me because I can’t write it. I’ve tried. And failed. Two friends write poems that make my heart ache with the beauty of their words. It takes me a novel and 80,000 words to say what they convey in five stanzas.
I don’t edit poetry simply because I don’t understand it and could never edit with an unbiased eye. I know what I like but couldn’t tell you why. It’s a form of writing that is a deep mystery to me.
A few months ago I watched a little known gem of a movie called ‘The Business of Fancy Dancing’ based on a book of poems by the talented Sherman Alexei. There is a scene where the main character is remembering a pow wow. He’s sitting in bed with paper and pencil and as his memory brings alive the drumming and singing, his pencil begins to tap the rythm he hears in his past. Before long words are flowing into a poem with the same rythm.
That’s when it hit me that a poem is remembered music, and that music comes alive only when the poem is read by someone who recognizes it, that finds something in the words that resonates. I’m not saying that a poem is just lyrics to a song. Far from it, for a song is heard by the ears while a poem seems to be music heard at a deeper level. I think all writers hear that song of words inside, but only a gifted few can turn that into a poem.
So have you written poetry? If not, consider this a challenge to try it. Let me know how it turns out. And feel free to share your favorites here. Mine include Wedell Berry’s ‘Peace of Wild Things’ and Robert Frost’s ‘November Guest’.