11 November 2011

Can #poetryday Save Our Souls?

Seamus Heaney Seamus HeaneyOn Thursday Umair Haque, self-described author, blogger, thinker, and reformer, suggested #poetryday on Twitter as an antidote to the usual "endless series of tweets about (no offense) trivial stuff" that ordinarily fills his stream.

For some of us -- poets and readers -- everyday is poetry day, but the more I thought about it and saw how others were responding to it, the more I started to think he may be onto something.

I'm not convinced that "poetry is the opposite of the profit motive," as one responder wrote, but I do believe with Seamus Heaney that poetry is "an anthropological necessity because if you didn't have poetry, everything would slip back into media speak."

We need poetry and the attention of the poet because, in Heaney's words, it "helps us to live our lives in the face of destruction."

"I keep getting this funny feeling that our degeneration and the fact that we treat great poetry like stupid rambling might be connected," Umair wrote in another Tweet.

Poet and lecturer David Whyte has been talking about the need for reconnecting with poetry for nearly two decades.

"Corporate America desperately needs the powers historically associated with the poetic imagination not only to see their way through the present whirligig of change, but also, because poetry asks for accountability to a human community, for rootedness and responsibility even as it changes," Whyte wrote in The Heart Aroused, his 1994 book about poetry and the need for more soul in the workplace.

We may never get the news from poetry, as William Carlos Williams posited, but turning away from poetry may prevent us from achieving what Nobel Laureate Joseph Brodsky called "the goal of our species."

(Disclosure: The author is an award-winning poet who also blogs about poetry at seapoetry.wordpress.com.)
Enhanced by Zemanta