The nature of poetry

Audre Lorde says that poetry is not a luxury. To flourish as human beings, women, others, we need what poetry can offer. And what exactly is that? Poetry offers grace and revelation. It cups secret fragments of truth and moonlight. Poetry unveils textures of flesh. Poetry reignites the smouldering passion of love amid ashes of despair, again and again. Poetry helps the self to reimagine and enlarge the world, all within the present, perfect moment of this stanza. Poetry is the rational, chemical mind electrified with colour and art, and mysterious power. Poetry takes us to wild places. Poetry is not ruled by the desire for control and order, in fact, those things matter little to the poetic.

Yet a good poem exhibits an order and a subtle expertise in the elements of grammar and word, sound and form. The flashing insight of a poem is never sloppily delivered. Poetry is paradox, it is an untamed order of signs, a gentle explosion on the page, a well-honed wild thing. Poetry will say what can never be said, with great rhythm. A good poem in its execution of the ancient art of language, reveals something new and that is its moral value. It moves us beyond what is narrow and regimented, oppressive. And I wonder if this is what Lorde means, to live with thoughtfulness and bring about social change, we need the evocative relational energy that poetry provides.

Poetry is a source of life, especially for the ones beaten down by life.

It Is Born by Pablo Neruda

Here, I came to the boundaries

where nothing needs to be said,

everything is learned with weather and ocean,

and the moon returned

with its lines silvered

and each time the shadow was broken

by the crash of a wave

and each day on the balcony of the sea

wings open, fire is born

and everything continues blue as the morning.

Roaring Beach - where I live

Sun and Life by Pascale Petit

In the maize field I found the sun,

his warning eye open.

From this cauldron

one tear hangs

holding the world’s oceans

while all around, the corn sways

huge as solar systems

and an embryo in its husk

grows a mountain range

on its spine.

I am down under the stems,

my face on fire,

but I keep on looking

into the hub of creation, stars

spinning from my brush.


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