Thinking of poetry,
I recall two books
favorites from years past,
each consists of Bill Moyer's
with various poets...
These poets speak
of the writing life,
their musings on the " meaning"
of poetry
and share other insights
on this, the " spooky" art
( was it Mailed who coined
the term?)
The titles,
" Fooling with Words"
and, " The Language of Life"
can well be ars poeticas
answering the enigmatic question,
" What is poetry?"
But somehow
I feel,
there is more-
that poetry is largely undefinable...
And so, I contemplate
my experiences with poetics and poetry
gleanings from history
and these are lessons-
One memory comes from my
from Isak Dennison's
" Out of Africa"
and the recitation in Swahili,
of verse completely nonsensical,
to Kikuyo tribesmen unfamiliar with poetry,
Still, the response was absolute delight,
thus, they repeated-
" Speak like rain"
" Speak like rain..."
And I wonder are we all
by a core
a spark awakened upon hearing poetry?
with it's rhythms and rhyme
assonance and alliteration.
Regarding the Kikuyo,
did their reference to rain
imply that, which is soothing,
life- giving
somehow, I am sure...
And I wonder too,
are poets, ( as all artists)
" the antenna of their race."
( to quote Pound)
suggesting we are some sort
of conduit
of the society
in which we live...
Further thought turn
to the Beats-
and their innovative fire,
to the compact wisdom of
Li Po
of- haiku in general;
an excerpt of nature
like a tiny " aha" moment-
a literary snapshot of the sublime...
And I think also
of samizdat writings
the desperation yet fervor
of it's authors,
the urgency, vitality of each line...
And Flor y Canto of the Aztecs
the original,
and centuries later Chicano
of the same name...
I acknowledge too,
an element of the sacred
which lives in each poem
and that this was known
by the Greeks,
by the poet- king
Yes, the ancients recognized
( even as indigenous people today)
the connection
between poetry and song
poetry and prayer...
And this is a concentrated
potion, poetry
of emotion and experience
it is born of Lorca's duende-
a paradox of exhilaration and frustration
both blessing and curse.
Poetry is known to all cultures
it is ever reinventing itself,
springing up in new venues,
thus we have our contemporary
proclaiming their sentiments and thoughts
at slams and campuses
workshops, open mics-
on a sea of podiums...
But poetry also exists
in dismal places-
like slums and shelters
prisons and refugee camps
it is necessary and affirming
a bearing witness-
sometimes the only evidence
left of hope...
( As Roque Dalton said, " Poetry, like bread
is for everyone.)
and throughout millennia
there have always been
compelled to write,
there will continue to be poets
as long as
possess the ability to think
and feel,
as long as literacy remains
this beautiful art,
will survive.


Annette M Velasquez

For all lovers of poetry...

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