Since the beginnings of human society we've had a need for someone in the tribe to be the documenter, the recorder, the person that tells the stories of what got us where we are. The poet is that person. The assertion that if we forget the past we are doomed to repeat our mistakes has much validity. This applies to personal or family history as well as the big picture of societal history Poetry is a powerful voice with which to bear witness.
People are complicated creatures. We see, we hear, we feel. We get angry, we laugh, we cry, we get bored. We get lonely and frustrated and sometimes, so filled with awe and wonder we are about to explode. There are positive and negative ways to express our feelings. Poetry, music, dance and art are among the positive. Then again, there are people who express themselves with racist epithets or picking fights, being bullies or worse. Poetry is one of the positive ways to express the range of emotions we humans possess, even the negative emotions, without causing harm to ourselves or anyone else.
As human beings, we all have personal reasons, to perhaps, express ourselves with an occasional poem. At times we have a need for catharsis, a need to unburden ourselves. Poetry can also be a tool for healing ourselves or others after times of trauma. We all react to both internal and external stimuli, for example, poems written by soldiers at war, or poems written after the 911 attacks. Perhaps we've just seen the most glorious sunset of our lives or heard the words "I love you" and we can't contain our reaction to what life places before us.
Poetry can also be a meditative experience. It helps us think on another level. Sometimes we need to write a poem out of curiosity. Words can be the ship that takes us on a journey of exploration. Poetry is a way to solve what puzzles us.
Write a poem for the sake of art. A poet is just as much an artist as a painter, a sculpture or a musician. A poet's medium, written and spoken word, is created with an audience's or another person's consciousness as the canvas, the stage, the bock of stone that is sculpted.
A poet is an entertainer. Famous American writer (and former Saint John's faculty member), J.F. Powers, once told me a writer is nothing but an entertainer. If you don't entertain, who will read what you write? Author Bea Lake in "Mutant Message From Forever" says "entertainment is meant to cheer the weary, soothe the frustrated, comfort the distressed." If you're an entertainer, try entertaining with a poem!
Poetry is fun! What better reason to write a poem could there be?
We need to communicate with each other. There are times when we see something, hear something or feel something and we just want to tell someone else about it, when one human being needs to communicate with another. Try a poem. Like wondering if the proverbial tree falling in the forest really fell if nobody noticed it, a poem needs a reader or listener. Find that person.
What are your reasons to write a poem? Find them and give poetry a try. If you need an audience, want to improve your poetic ability or just talk about what you've written, bring your poems to the Writing Centers on either campus. There are creative writers on our staff and we don't care if you're taking a creative writing class or not, though we'd love to hear from Creative Writing students. We're interested in writers and writing of all kinds. Share your work with us. We're people just like you and we'd love to hear what you have to say.
Stories From Tierra Amarilla
An old man and his old black dog sit in the sun,
the wind deflected by a crumbling adobe wall,
rusty hinges barely supporting
a paint-chipped blue door that never opens.
The old abuelo's drooping head
is full of stories he's told himself all his life,
half made up in his mind, though all of them true.
He tells these stories to his deaf, white-whiskered dog
or any passerby that stops to share the sun.
If you stopped, he would tell all those stories to you,
and you would feel obliged to carry them with you,
not as stones in your pocket,
but as poems written on dragonfly wings.
— Larry Schug, Writing Center volunteer tutor
As the weather is getting chilly, the Writing Center is getting very excited about Halloween! Take a look at the skeleton and bats hanging out at the Alcuin Library location.
Originally a pagan tradition intended to ward off evil spirits by obscuring children's faces, Halloween has become a secular holiday filled with cute kids in costumes, candy, scares, and parties. More often than not, Halloween offers a chance of becoming something you are not and to enjoy time with your friends. This poem tries to encompass all aspects of the holiday-including a dark and creepy undertone. To show the lighter side of the season, an end rhyme on the second and fourth lines of each stanza is included. Also, having the syllables of each line match up with the corresponding one on the next stanza helps add consistency and flow.
Spooky Scary Skeletons
--By Anna Norris, CSB 2019
Spooky scary skeletons
Knocking at your door
You better give them candy
Before they ruin your floor
Jack-o-lanterns all alight
Ghosts hung in the yard
Halls all full of cobwebs
With witches standing guard
Masks with hidden faces
Of figures that you fear
Do not let them scare you
As they draw ever near
It's now time to party
Brains and blood tonight
Do not forget your garlic cloves
The vamps all tend to bite
Create your own:
Write your own seasonally-inspired poem about Halloween and or fall in general. Experiment with a rhyme scheme to see if that adds or detracts from the overall effect.