{National Poetry Month} Poetry in the Everyday

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Poetry in the Everyday by Natalya Lawren {guest writer}

Not many people I know (including myself) read poetry every day. I certainly believe that reading poetry is a fantastic way to celebrate it, but by no means the only way. We ought to (and to some extent already do) observe and experience the world, others, and ourselves. We learn new things and revisit the old. This life is poetry. Everyday.

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An oft-asked question is “Where do you get your inspiration?”

“Well, you’re looking at it,” I’m prone to say, “these discussions, people, bad traffic, blue skies, scraped knees in the summer, frogs, forgotten pieces of ancient lore…”

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When we think of poetry, we often think of abstract perhaps unrealistic lyricism, but there are also snapshots of day-to-day life that are meant to be translated into powerful words, interwoven with unexpectedly wonderful concepts, that resonate with the experience that everyone witnesses at some point in their life. Poetry is the magnifier, the inquisitor, the intensifier. Poetry is an instrument, and it does truly take years of practice, study, and reflection to wield it. Wielding it has a purpose. You pursue the same purpose when you tell someone what a bad dream was like, how you explain a math equation.

I started to think this way whenever I looked back at my rough drafts of poems, the sort of semi-coherent nonsense I spin out in a continuous rush while walking down the street. Oftentimes when editing, it is not the whole that is the beautiful, it is the snippets and lines. And these lines are usually describing something in such a succinct, striking, or unusually appropriate way that they capture my (and hopefully others) attention. And when I read these in my own work or in others, they stick in my mind as the descriptors I apply to the world. No longer was poetry something that was for sitting at home or an isolating experience in a crowded room of people. I found myself seeing and testing the ground under my feet, prodding the horizon, brain-linked like a word association game. I could hold conversations with people and form friendships and that became poetry. I could walk across the street and feel the hollow rush of passing cars in the empty canvas I trod on. It wasn’t that I was replacing reality with imagination. I was truly noticing things for the first time in new and vibrant ways.

I recently wrote a piece of short fiction on “whimsical repression.” I thought this would be appropriate to share, so here it is:

Whimsical repression sent me into a dark place. Strangers explored the nature of bad traffic around me, and I experienced the rubbernecking syndrome: stared at some oddity that I pretended to not-see like the rest of the world.

Space had gone still, unpopulated with space-monkeys or well-worn stories of kamikaze comets hurdling down interstellar highways or through the corn-field equivalent of shortcuts. This thinking was filed away. I could not see the stars. I knew them too well to be satellites.

The exotic words were off on their exotic holidays so when I observed my vicinities it was the same yet familiar–to be described only with familiar words. Street. Coffee Shop. Angry people. Stupid Pedestrians. Bad Traffic. The firemen out in their uniforms buying groceries. I did not see any heroics that week I was repressed. I saw them sit and eat a sandwich and when they left I did not wait to see what would have happened.

They call it a dry spell. A desert. They call it writer’s block. Your car is towed away. You walk a mile and turn no corners. Things are stupid mundane.

My point is that there’s no need to do anything extravagant for National Poetry Month (though that’s always fun as well), just take a moment to look around, even if it is “stupid mundane” and take a moment to share it with others. Share and articulate the nature of humanity, emotion, and the world. This is a form of expression you are using. Take a moment to appreciate the words with which you convey your story.

You can be a Poet for National Poetry Month. Imagine that.

I believe we have an option when it comes to participating in National Poetry Month.

Feel free to do all, some, or a little of each:

  • Read a poem every day of this month.
  • Look at the world as never before.
  • Share both your reading and real life experiences, by which I will suggest either  the 3 beautiful things challenge or writing a poem yourself. Share this in the comments, or send me it to omphaloskepsis[at]stonhaus[dot]com

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