Recently, I heard Michael Longley, an Anglo-Irish poet, speak to Krista Tippett during her radio program, On Being. He shared why poetry has such power for us as human beings. Our human experience often is full of joy, happiness and love, intermingled with difficult, troubling experiences. Through the words of poetry and its necessary precision, a depth and possibly new meaning to what experiences we are wading or even drowning in the midst may be possible. This has been my experience with poetry. I find that certain phrases or lyrics touch my heart and soul in an instant. Tears flow as I hear the beauty of the truth emitted by poet’s words.
The Magic of Haiku
As I have shared in my book, Cleanse Your Body, Reveal Your Soul, I found the power of haiku to be a way to express my experience with the panchakarma. It was a magical way for me to attempt to encompass what was happening to me at so many levels.
I had taken a workshop back in 2014 near Halloween. The theme had been on loss, the Day of the Dead (Dios Los Muertos) and the seasonal transition to fall. The focused energy of our time together gave me the space I needed to appreciate the simplicity and wonder of creating haiku. Exercises to write quietly our observations and our internal experiences then sharing with the group created a synergistic flow and an ease with manifesting beauty with a few simple words within the haiku style. I have continued to experiment with this style of poetry and a more open form of poetry. The simple joy and at times, the catharsis of writing, I find powerful and empowering.
In These Times
There was another important point that Michael Longley made that really struck me. He spoke of the fact that there are people who see poetry as not worth much. Yet, he mused out loud that what are the very things most states and religions seek to get rid of in times of trouble. It is books of knowledge and poetry. The immense value is in profound, simple words about the sacred, shared human experience. These words cannot be drowned out or erased from those who chose to see beyond what is in front of us or what is being fed to us by the church and state.
Poetry is the freedom to speak the truths often denied in our culture regardless of what century we speak of. As history has shown us repeatedly, it creates discomfort in those who perceive themselves to be in power. The words of the poet liberate the writer of those words. It inspires the one who reads or listens to the words of the poet. It heals both the poet and the one who listens. The possibility of a creative surge for all who participate exists. Within this creative release, we can find profound and healing expressions of the common themes of our humanity. This is the gift poetry has for all of us.