Friday, October 14, 2011

One Reason Poetry is Important

Last night, my son Sid and I went to a poetry reading. I will go blue in the face trying to explain why it was important to be there. I am glad that I did not have to explain why to Sid, that for some reason, he knew, that he would go there for more than the several out-loud laughs he had or for the treats that did not come until after the reading.

It was important to be there. It was important to learn, remember, and respond to and from those words, the ideas, the emotion. How much can we learn from poetry?

Last night's lessons: They are about poetry, art and life, and why humans need all three.

We learned that there are things that we will say in poems that we won't say to our parents, won't say if we are shy and won't say if we are pretending to be polite at the expense of telling the truth. That there are things that “people” will say in their sleep, and you can make wonderful verse by just capturing those words. We say, “people,” but in the poem, it reads true, reads “lover” or “the one I love.” Sometimes we are so shy, but how else do we learn what people say in their sleep?

I was reminded that the devil so someone who will ask you to accept a deal that he himself would never accept. And that such men will call themselves gods in order to justify their carnivorous appetite for human mortals and their love and their souls.

I was reminded of what it takes—what factors must be in place—for a grown man to take the life of a boy: how he gets to take the safety of other children and women to whom he is privileged to become too close.

I was reminded that the collection of people with whom I share last night's event is a sufficiently rare collection in that we all understood that to take things like this is wrong.

We learned that we had a place where we could talk about it, even if changing the world would require us leaving that comfortable space. We were happy to know that just as those snippets of art moved us, we, too, could move people and the world will change just a little.

And it is time to write. For all of us, it is time to write, and share. And we won't have to explain why poetry is important, because, today, even though I put them to paper, I am at a loss for words.

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