Reason to Be Happy #410:
Today I am pleased as punch to offer a guest blog from a writer friend of mine. I met Ed Davis years and years ago (I won't...ahem...say just how many) when we were in a writing group together. He is the author of the novels I Was So Much Older Then and The Measure of Everything, as well as the poetry chapbooks Haskell and Whispering Leaves, and many short stories. He's one of those writers who is crazy good at reading his own work. I would happily sit and listen to him read for hours. You can find out lots more about him at his website. Ed blogs here about writing poetry, but the reasons he lists are mostly true of reading poetry, as well. I recently shared with a writing class that part of my morning writing warmup is to read two or three poems. I look forward to reading Ed's poems when Time of the Light, his new collection, releases this November. In the meantime, please read his wonderful blog on writing poetry below:
Reason to be Happy: Writing Poetry
Rumi and Rilke, Lennon and McCartney, the Psalms of David . . . ah, poetry! Like Katrina, I’m a novelist, but one who also writes poetry. I once thought I couldn’t “serve two muses,” and I quit writing poems in favor of writing stories exclusively. But I couldn’t avoid those moments that screamed poetry. And what is it about poetry, you might ask?
Writing poetry gives me intoxicating pleasure even purer than fiction. You don’t need all the infrastructure of plot and characterization. All you need is image, language and rhythm, mainlined into your veins and shot straight to your head and heart.
Writing poetry has taught me what the stuff really is: mostly something I feel in my gut rather than in my head. Meaning is subordinate to music. Even when I don’t get it—or even like it—I recognize it. And to hear and to read it was, for me, to want to write it, which I’ve been doing for about thirty-five years now.
Using language to make poetry is a whole “other thing” than prose. I live for the music of word and line, whatever the breath can encompass. True, prose can be luscious, poetic to a greater or lesser degree, but pure poetry is the closest to heaven that words ever get.
Writing poetry perfectly complements the spiritual inspiration I find in the woods. Being among rocks, trees and streams takes me to the place where my Higher Power and I commune most closely. The confluence of nature and poetry gives me great joy—and sometimes yields poems I want to share with others.
Writing poetry connects me to a vital community. Poetry-Land is a parallel universe, easily accessed. Readings are all over the place, from bars and coffee shops to libraries and prisons. Also, through poetry I’ve forged ties with poets all over the country.
Writing poetry also brought me the gift of public performance. For a long time, I thought I could never share such intimate words and experiences. And yet, if the holy has happened—as it so often does in the composition process—the result will, like liturgy, bless both writer and the listener with astonishing joy.
Now you . . .
Once you start watching for it, poetry will find you. And that’s only a step away from you perhaps writing your own poems. They could even become indispensable. “These Poems,” a poem which came to me one day in Glen Helen Nature Preserve, seems to think so:
I’ve left these poems behind
a hundred million times,
lying in ditches, tossed
thoughtlessly from speeding cars,
buried deep on cemetery ridges.
But these poems . . .
Never left me.
God willing, they never will.
(Main Street Rag Press will publish Ed’s first full-length poetry collection Time of the Light, including the poem above, in November 2013. See http://mainstreetrag.com/bookstore/product/time-of-the-light/ for full details. Please visit Ed at www.davised.com.)