Photo by Ricardo Esquivel
Poets like Jacqui DeLorenzo, Jaime Fidler, and Kishwar Mirza—to name a few—are some recent examples of people writing transformative and resonant poetry in these perplexing times.
Poetry, at its core, has always been deeply tied to what it is to be human. Poetry is an art form, one of the oldest. Yet without it and the others, there is no doubt that what is perceived as human society and civilization would not exist, or, at least, in the form that it exists today, with all its wonders and terrors, advancements, and regressions. Poetry, then, is inherently tied to the essence of humanity and what it takes to exist as an individual.
Creating Meaning from the Verses
Art exists as a didactic and expressive tool; the former because it attempts to bridge the gap between the artist’s perspective and the viewer’s, and the latter because it is a vector through which an artist can channel the whole of their being and be understood by the world at large. These two are art’s primary functions, and a diversity of aims springs from them. Poetry is potent because it taps into a primal and essential origin of human creativity by using one of humanity’s oldest and most consequential inventions: language.
Straight from My Heart by Jacqui DeLorenzo, Jaime’s Inspirations, and Kishwar Mirza’s Stories and Poems from a Grandmother’s Heart are brilliant examples of the artistic use of language and the limits of poetic communication.
Unlike prose, poetry uses the complete range of language, whether in written forms or spoken speech and plays with rhythm, cadence, beat, etc.
But as a form of art, these are the impacts that poetry has:
- It is a lens to understand the human condition and foster empathy. The communication of emotions and ideas is key to poetry. Since its creation, poetry has always been a vehicle for writers to portray their perspectives, understandings of the world, and opinions of abstract concepts. By reading poetry, readers are invited to look at a world through another point of view; sometimes ones they wouldn’t have considered. Poetry is a great way to understand how other people perceive the world.
- It is a primer for mastering a language. Poetry can trace its origins as a mnemonic tool for storytellers to remember their tales; then, it became a way to pass information from person to person. That is because early poetry was heavily reliant on rhyme and rhythm, which made poems much easier to remember and recite. Poetry is also a source of history and culture, providing much-needed context for mastering a language or a dialect.
- It is a potential ignition for societal change. In place of a public square, radicals have always taken advantage of the revolutionary potential of art, and poetry is no different. Poetry has been a constant medium for the oppressed to push back against their oppression and fight back against their oppressors, whether because of repressive norms, state violence, or political inaction.
- It is a method of introspection and renewal. As mentioned before, poetry is a good way of understanding other people, and this understanding can provide readers with a scheme for self-discovery and self-understanding. Poetry is also a marvelous way for readers to get a sense of unfamiliar feelings and come to terms with them organically and reflectively. Finding out that at least one person feels the same way as you can be highly cathartic for many people.
- It is an anchor to the world. Poetry not only offers opportunities for readers to know more about the world, but it helps them establish a firm connection. Reading about the world through poetry is the same as actualizing the dreams of communities, nations, and places.