Derek Berry, a fellow writing friend of mine, recently wrote a post on his own personal blog site on “the poetic life.” If you're interested in his week-long contemplation on the poetic life, check out his blog at http://derekberry.wordpress.com/2012/10/17/the-poetic-life-an-introduction/. Derek describes a poetic life as the kind of life where everything can seem sentimental, and anything can serve as inspiration to our creative brain juices. Yesterday, I read his post and took some personal time to ponder my own poetic life that has been fraught with writer’s block, overthinking, and overwhelming bouts of nostalgia and sentimental sap.
Just recently, I returned to my poetic life after taking what seems to have terribly long sabbatical. Last week, I picked up an old poem idea that I had been tossing around for about a month or so and finally got around to writing it out. You can read my poem titled “What I’m Trying to Say” in the previous blog post of mine I posted earlier today.
The writing process: inspiration, reflection, pen-to-paper time, and then finished product. It’s an exhiliarating thrill you get when you’re crafting a work of art from nothing but a blank sheet of college ruled paper and a dull-pointed #2 pencil—but somehow, you make something hopefully worth reading. You write and you write and you write until your finished product is all out there plain to see.
But what is it like to get inside the brain of a poet? Does it mean that we’re all masters of philosophy—that we’re all magical gurus who secretly know the meaning of life? Do we brush our teeth while brainstorming a new haiku for each and every incisor rooted in our face? Are we sentimental sighing lads and lasses who sit under willow trees sipping an afternoon’s tea with one hand and scribble out wisdom with the other?
The interesting and humorous misconception is that poets sit around all day musing and pondering over the mundane and manage to skew to make it seem sentimental and enlightening. The truth is that we’re ordinary people who are trying to make sense of the world around us. We express it through words. Words, words, words. We construct phrases that seemingly run on forever and make both and the reader and the writer incredibly winded to try and read the lines aloud so that the pacing gets faster and faster and faster like a human being accelerating toward the earth without parachute, a miracle, or hope. Poets are masters at saying what needs to be said. It can be pointed and concise but equally dense. It can hit you like a brick when I say that poetry can’t save the life of a six year old girl diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Sometimes, a writer's poetic thoughts can be a taxing and fatiguing package that seems to have been dumped on our front porch. Overthinking is one of my greatest faults. Dreaming and imagining the infinite possibilities. Dwelling on my own actions and the “what if” principle. Rationalizing the actions of others and making sense of the illogical. My mind can be a terrifying place at times that is constantly in danger of exploding and spewing poetic brain goo from one end of the room to the other.
A poet’s mind can be a messy and confusing place at times, but somehow, truth manages to gleam through. What I mean is that we poets bring a new perspective to the table analyzing, exaggerating, and rephrasing different chapters and footnotes of life. We write to express. We write to escape. We write because our words are what our society so desperately needs. Ramble, rant, complain, vilify, praise, defend, narrate. It’s all perspective. Maybe we should all try and see life through different colored lenses, upside down and backwards. Perspective is what the world needs and what a poetic mind can provide.