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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Writing in the Dark and Fog

A face peeks around the door,
“You’re up early.”
“I had to get up,” I sigh.
“Words?” you grin.
“Yes, words. I had to let them out.
Words were kicking on the doors of dream
and wouldn’t wait ‘til daybreak.
They wanted out—
(They think themselves, so important.)
Why do these tyrants disappear,
when my pen comes out?”

When I say that I write poetry, I hear—
Poetry is a hard sell.  You’ll never make any money at it.
Poetry is annoying to read.  I don’t understand it.
Poetry isn’t real writing like stories or articles or journalism, it just comes to you.  You don’t have to do revisions and research like real writers.
These are not encouraging or supportive statements.  They are also wrong.
Selling poetry depends upon the ability of the writer and on the available markets.  It depends upon the marketing skills of the writer or the agent and upon the whims of the time.  Vampire poetry might sell more quickly now, than nature poetry.
Is poetry annoying to read?  It depends upon what the reader seeks to gain from reading.  Is poetry more than what appears on the surface?  Is that “more” something that requires a second or third look?  Yes.  Poetry defines something familiar and concrete in a fresh way that elicits feelings and offers meaning below the surface of the words.   Naomi Shihab Nye says about poetry, “As you rub these words together, they spark and whole new combinations happen.”
Poetry is not something that flies by and drops itself whole and perfect onto the page.  There is art and craft and talent and dozens, sometimes hundreds of revisions to achieve a piece of writing worth sharing.  As for anyone perfecting a craft, a carpenter, an engineer, a hair stylist, a scientist, a painter, a justice advocate, the craft requires honing skills and doing research and work, yes...work.   The work demands dedication to learning, and to the passion inside the heart that calls out to the world to be heard, to be seen, to be known, to be shared and to make a difference. 

Reading poetry is like being in fog.  You perceive the world as limited, wrapped in grey mist.  The sun rises and burns off the fog.  You see there is another world under the veil of dampness, a world you couldn’t see before, but a world that was always there, waiting for you.  You feel surprise and gladness.  It is stunning, simple.  Poetry lifts the veil and captures that moment when something fresh reveals itself.
Writing poetry means working with what kicks at the doors of dreams, means wrestling with the relentlessness of truth, to craft words that lift the veils in our lives.

The photos are mine.  If you want to learn about Naomi Shihab Nye,
click on her name above in coloured print. 
You will go to another website with additional information.


Anonymous said...

Nice WORDS :)

Carol Steel said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written. You wrote a poem in prose form.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Carol... Beautiful, Calming, sensitive and a sincere passion..
You are a Conjurer of the mist and fog...

Crafty Green Poet said...

what beautiful photos, Carol. Also very wise and interesting words about poetry. It certainly is something that needs to be worked at.

I think too though that there are certain fashions in poetry at the moment that put a lot of people off reading it.

Carol Steel said...

Anonymous: Thank you for your comments. I appreciate your observations.

Carol Steel said...

Gwen, thank you for this feedback and comment. It feels good to hear this.

Carol Steel said...

CGP, thanks for this feedback. I loved the fog photos too. It is amazing what mist and fog do to my perceptions of the world. I agree that fads in poetry can discourage readers.

Jane Tims said...

Hi. I like 'words were kicking on the doors of dream'. There is no doubt about the revisions. Sometimes I am so sure a poem is perfect and suddenly I'll see it in a different way. Don't you also find it looks so different on the page, or on the screen? Also typed or handwritten, these seem to make a difference in a poem. Nice post! Jane

Carol Steel said...

Jane, thank you for your comment. I find that poems have to be shared when the enthusiasm for them is still within me. Sometimes they shouldn't be shared as they're not ready. Other times I decide not to share them, and revise them to death and they have to be chucked. It's a mystery.