The acute grief ebbs and flows, but the sadness and missing never leaves and only grows. The questions loom though you eventually give up the screaming and yelling,"Why" to settle into a more gentle, "nobody knows anything really" phase. You can look to Buddhism, the Tao, Christianity, prophets, psychics, psychologists, friends and the heavens but no answers really come. God is maddingly quiet when it seems to matter the most.
Looking For Help in Grief
I eventually looked to poetry and an online support group, after throwing all of the grief books against the wall after the loss of my husband. It wasn't that I thought I would find answers in poetry, as much as I wanted to see the process of grief, raw and unadulterated. I wanted to see someone was as torn up as I was, as messy and lacking in faith or strength, but somehow miraculously survived.
Too many grief books had a "tie it up with a bow, God never gives you more than you can handle, time will heal" pabulum approach that drove most of the people crazy. Time wasn't making us better and God had given us more than we believed we could handle, in fact some of us couldn't handle it. Most of all we knew nothing about our loses would ever be tied up with a bow, clean and neat. So many grief books seemed to be written by psychologists with "credentials" who had only watched others going through grief, but had not personally experienced it, or some writer who wrote years after the death with a dispassionate objectivity that feels a million miles away to someone in the agony of immediate grief.
Not Finding Poetry That Helped in Grief
When I turned to poetry, I didn't find much to help either. Everything was written as a riddle, or a challenge and seemed to be written by people who hadn't experience enough of life yet to realize that life is enough of a puzzle and challenge and no one who is hurting and screaming why needs another challenge. What grieving people need is comfort, beauty, solace and something that speaks the truth without trying to put a bow on it and say, "It will be all better."
My international online support group members agreed, so I began to write what we all wanted and couldn't find. They couldn't wait to read what I wrote the night before and posted. They wanted me to publish but I was too broken to try. I just kept writing poems, crying my tears and sharing it with those who understood. It wasn't pretty, my verbs weren't exciting, my tone personal, my pieces reeked of emotion. In short, I wrote everything the poetry elite hate, but everything real people want to read, hunger for and need to read.
So that brings me to the title, "What is the point of poetry?" Is it to entertain, enlighten, challenge, create social change, touch the heart, heal or to create puzzles? I like to think poetry is all of these things, but sometimes it seems like the poetry world, as it exists in America, eliminates especially the healing and emotional or personal type poetry-the very poetry the world hungers for and desperately needs.
What if we Embraced all Types of Poetry?
If poetry were music, it would be like saying the only acceptable music is discordant jazz and that's all we'll play. Music, unlike poetry, has many types of music that can be in vogue at the same time. Yes, both have their vocal Nazi's who declare all other forms, except the one they happen to like, as inferior. I can't help but wonder what it would be like if we welcomed all forms of poetry, including the personal and sentimental. What if our poetry could also speak to those in pain and heal? What if there was a decent book of poetry that really speaks in a raw, earthy and beautiful way that I could buy for our widowed friend?
What if the Bourgeois Could Enjoy Poetry Too?
Is the poetry world big enough for all of the forms of poetry that touch people? Is it big enough to embrace the bourgeois common man and invite him to enjoy poetry for the first time in his life because he can understand it while he ponders the questions that really matter in life like, "Why, oh God why, is there so much suffering in the world?"
What would the poetry world, and the larger world we exist in, look like if we opened ourselves to the mundane trivial loss of everyman, that is only mundane and trivial until it happens to you?
What if we Soothed Even One Tortured Soul With Our Poetry?
What if our poetry has the power to reach others when they most need it? Or, to heal or soothe when nothing else does? Which one of you wouldn't want to throw someone a lifeline in a sea of sorrow? I dream of a day when all the notes in the songs are valued, not just those of a certain type. I yearn for the day when bookstores brim with books full of poems that reach people in such a way that they line up to buy a poetry book and give it to their loved ones and friends. You may call me a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. What would the poetry world look like if we dropped the artificial boundaries and judgments with equal opportunity for all types of poetry, even allowing the common man to partake of our little treasure?
Any thoughts out there? I'd love to hear them! What does poetry mean to you?
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