{National Poetry Month} on silence/speaking


on silence/speaking by Natalya Lawren {guest writer}

I apologize for the radio silence.  And on that note: more than ever I’ve realized how much of poetry is a voice. I say this because on Friday (the 17th), I participated in the Day of Silence, a movement of students in support of the LGBT community, protesting the bullying, harassment and bigotry that silences and forces people to hide who they are. But as I struggle with not speaking and relate it to not speaking out of fear of hate, I pondered not speaking at all! This is the silence of the oppressed, of the not-quite dissent but unvocalized issues.

I’m very much extroverted, and extremely talkative. I try to reconcile this with the popular stereotype of the writer who writes so they don’t have to speak. Though this stereotype is often not applicable, it is true that to write is the words that may not be communicated otherwise. Something personal. Something conveyed through poetry as an exploration, revelation, secret or struggle.

I’ve been saying this all along, but not in such clear of terms. Perhaps I should’ve said this on the first day of the month.

But it was today I began considering not only the movement as an act of protest, but also one of empathy, and something allowing me to listen and ponder the nature of communication. It’s simultaneously frustrating and fascinating to see how much I can encourage people to talk with just my facial expressions, and I began to study their reactions in turn. I am rarely as introspective about my usual day-to-day speech as I am now with my silent communications, and of course, I am most thoughtful about my writing. It somehow becomes less about just the brunt of what is being communicated, but how we share it, which has most always been the refinement of poetry, and now speech as I think about it.

So speaking is not necessarily poetry (though I promise you an article on spoken word poetry later in the month), but what if it became the same through the amount of thought of how to express, how to impact or best convey? Here I’m treading the challenge of making poetry relate to day-to-day life, a pursuit I continue even after “Poetry in the Everyday” and “On Matters of Survival.” Whether this communication is by changing the nature of the world around you or changing society, using blank spaces or writing messages directly to people, it must occur in some form or another.

And consider the silence. Call it blank space, call it made-of-fear. There are certain things we do not talk about. I believe art is one of those things. We talk in terms of entertainment and consumption, but conversations actually about music or poetry or just the nature of humanity are some of the best ones I’ve had. I think we should have more.

So whether you prefer to speak to people about poetry this month, or speak with the thought of poetry, or not speak at all but listen to others, I encourage us to have time of our own to do this. I do not want to detract attention from Day of Silence, which I believe is a fantastic endeavor, but I thank it sincerely for the inspiration for this idea. Be it silence or speech, take National Poetry Month to be something worth thinking about.


thoughts? would love to hear them...

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