Why Write Poetry

First, a disclaimer:  I am in no way an authority on poetry; it is just something I happen to do… a lot.  In fact, my original blog, One Woman’s Quest, is dedicated to my poetic escapades.

A cancer scare prompted me to start writing a blog in the first place – I needed somewhere to process the panic of awaiting post-lumpectomy results (five weeks, in my case, as it was over Christmas holidays.)   By the time I got the all-clear, I was well launched into my writing practice. Early posts are all primarily nonfiction, and based on daily inspirational readings, and then;  life turned another corner, and illness struck again.

This time, I was not so lucky – I lost my ability to work, drive, read, watch television, interact with others, and everything else short of self-care.  It was devastating, but one ray of light gave me hope.  I could still write.

The intensity of my grief could not find sufficient expression in sentence and paragraph form, and thus a poet began to emerge – the words, like miniature life rafts, wafted in and out of my mind begging for release.  I gave them expression, and it was as if a hidden damn had broken and images and dreams poured forth and I could barely keep afloat of the burst of creative energy.

To date, I have written hundreds of poems, some palatable, some not, but all with a very distinct purpose – to heal from within.

Today, I had a further revelation about why I write poetry.  It came after posting my latest composition:  Heartquake.

Writing poetry requires me to be more precise and efficient with my words.  It demands a standard of accomplishment, and pushes me to reach deeper inside.

When I am faithful to the art form, I am stretched to demonstrate insight and transformation.

Perhaps, most importantly, poetry is intended to provoke a response, to trigger emotion and stir the unconscious.  In rereading Heartquake,  I had an aha moment:  there between the lines, I recognized that fatal flaw of character that haunts me so insidiously.

Can you spot it too?  I won’t confess it here, the point of this post being why I write poetry.  Suffice to say, poetry has power – to inspire change –  and that makes its effort, all the more worthwhile.

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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

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