Why Poetry?

In the strictest sense, poetry is words arranged into verse. But for me…poetry is the basis of human existence.

Certainly, the words are the raw material. But they needn’t be written. They can be spoken, sung…represented by drawings or sketches. They can be the thoughts that pass through one’s brain early in the morning, before logic and reason have warmed up their machines to make the cogs run smoothly.

When I came to this conclusion, I realized that I’d been a poet all my life. Not merely once I’d started writing structured verses in earnest. From the songs I’ve composed to the ink on my body, I’ve been searching for and creating meaning out of the occurrences, emotions, and phenomena of the human experience. All in the pursuit of truth.

And the longer I’ve pursued, the more convinced I’ve become of its mercurial nature. Truth is subjective. Truth is malleable. And it is the only thing worth striving for.

Not universal truth, for that doesn’t exist. Hold an opinion of any kind, and you will find numerous authorities and articles to support it. You will also be inundated by proofs to the contrary. So looking for truth from human sources, which are fallible, is fruitless.

You can find opinions that resonate with your own belief system. But that leads you right back into self. What do YOU believe is true? And why do you believe it? What comfort/fear/hope/despair/salvation does it offer you? And is it worth sharing?

This is why poetry exists. To share the truths that each poet has discovered on his or her path. These are as valid as the studies in medical journals, perhaps more; to wit, the scientific facts of cancer bear less truth about life with the disease than does a sonnet penned by a survivor.

Writing poetry is not a whimsical pastime. It is, in fact, perhaps the most important perpetuation of a culture’s humanity. Ideas and ideals that reveal prejudices and passions, sometimes timely, sometimes timeless, bleed through every line of a well- written poem.

I often say that I am not even real, that I am just a metaphor. That my songs reveal my thoughts, that my poems reveal my heart, that my outward appearance reveals my soul. Every part of me is a canto in the story of my journey…and I have miles to go.

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