For a long time I hesitated calling myself a poet (and I still do, to be honest). Poetry seemed like something elevated and refined that was difficult to grasp, and at the same time something that suggested that I walk around with my head in the clouds (which might be true…) Also, at times, it seems to me like there is no place for poetry in a world where tragic events follow each other week after week, and lately I have felt the words of Tennessee Williams resonate with me stronger than usual:
“The world is violent and mercurial—it will have its way with you. We are saved only by love—love for each other and the love that we pour into the art we feel compelled to share: being a parent, being a writer, being a painter, being a friend. We live in a perpetually burning building, and what we must save from it, all the time, is love.”
And there we have it. Sharing our art and our poetry, when we pour our love into it, is in and of itself a fight against chaos, silence, violence, cruelty, greed, hatred.
Words poured from love, line upon line, are by their very definition order, meaning, nurturing, good, generous, love.
This past year since my debut book has been published I have found my way back to writing poetry, which I did in abundance in my youth and young adult years. Somehow I lost it when my hidden heart disease progressed and I was dying without knowing why. It was like the words deserted me in many ways, but now it is such a joy to find my way back to them. I have always enjoyed reading poetry, and as readers of my book Beautiful Affliction know, poetry often helped me feel less alone, like I could borrow the words and make them mine, when my own words failed me.
Words have such power over us. It is a tremendous difference, in my experience, between having a word and not having a word for something. It was not until I was given the diagnosis of congenital heart disease, three powerful words, that my fatigue, shortness of breath and dizzy spells made sense. It was not until the words came that I could receive treatment. The words earlier assigned to me certainly didn’t help: sensitive, lazy, hypochondriac.
Many things in life are not easily contained in words, not only mysterious medical conditions, and I believe that is why I love poetry. For me, there has always been a need to find words for things that hide outside the boundaries of language, in the land where all art forms reside, and where artists and poets wander wide-eyed, collecting what they can, to pour into the art they feel compelled to share: words and paintings and friendships …
PS. If you want to check out a few of my poems you are welcome to visit my poetry page on this website. (Lately I have been experimenting with what I call a “mirror technique” where the poem’s stanzas mirror each other, but with a twist… Three of the poems explore this technique.)