Wednesday night Northwest writers’ Guild did poetry for a change of pace. We are after all dynamic and always try to stay one step ahead so no one gets bored and stale. Linda the writer, our coordinator did some fact checking for us. She told us about the different kinds and types of poetry there is and the fact, which I already knew, that poetry went into music form and have remained so to this day with lyrical and ballad types.
I also know that poetry comes more internally, from the heart, whereas prose is more about what we the writer experiences on an external level where we describe the world around us. Poetry conveys emotions and thoughts, feelings and experiences that are within us. Where prose is driven by the writer to logically or ethically persuade the audience (logos and ethos), poetry speaks through our emotions (pathos).
I am much more persuasive writing from the heart, than I am trying to make an argument through reason or verifying facts as I know them. Invariably some will come along and tell me I’m wrong. But they can’t reason or disprove emotion such as love or love loss, seeing a newborn baby for the first time or going to a funeral. Those impactful emotions are what drives poetry to its very foundation.
Our group then set about reading our own poems that we’ve written some of which was published in journals or in a collection of poetry. I listened to some and they don’t always rhyme. Mine don’t. When I bare my soul, I can’t waste my energies trying to figure out a word that rhymes to another word. It is too much for me.
I was in a blue period in my life in 2009. Both my parents died. Dad was expected, Mom’s was a complete and shockingly tragic surprise just eight weeks after Dad. She hit another car head-on into a larger car and died instantly. I drafted several poems about her and the accident and about what happened to me and my sisters from my own internal perspective. They are not meant for anything more than therapy in dealing with sudden death, never to be published unless my sisters feel the need after I’m gone. Or my wife.
One of the writers uses poetry in his narrative. It’s something I have also done in a couple of my books I’ve written. I’ve even gone so far to include verses or passages from the Holy Bible that conveys or supports the theme of the story. He told us his more favorite poem and mine too is the “Love Song of Alfred Prufrock” by TS Eliot. It is a bittersweet poem that when first read, as I first read it in high school, made no sense. But then as I grew older and experienced that poem in other literature and poetry classes in college, the meaning conveys much more and that is the whole point of poetry. How it makes us feel as we read it. Another favorite is Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” I can’t tell you how often I read that poem, especially when I’m depressed and it appears to lift up my spirit and see life in a new light.
Poetry moves me into an emotional and spiritual direction that prose tries but sometimes comes up short, though I have read prose that are in essence poetic just by the way the author arranged the words and the tempo so that it is by its nature a verse of poetry. Sometimes it’s an accident and sometimes the writer does it on purpose to draw the reader further into the story.
If it weren’t for music in this day and age, poetry may well have been a relic of the early 20th and nineteenth centuries. The music industry is in essence poetry in motion. I understand what drives rap and hip-hop though I personally don’t care for it, the lyrics that drives it is a form of urban poetry whose writers point out hard core realities of living in an urban environment.
Songs such as ”Blowing in the Wind,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” and “American Pie,” are anthems as much as they are poems or song lyrics played out by musicians. “How Many Roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?” That is nearly prophetic in its scope considering when Bob Dylan wrote those lyrics. It awoken a generation and a movement to stamp out prejudice, racism and hatred. That is poetry in motion