Happy National Poetry Day Aotearoa! To celebrate this festival of words, I have curated an epic line up of Kiwi wordsmiths, and selected poems from them that speak a little about the meaning of poetry. Have you asked yourself what poetry really is? Ever wondered why poetry even exists? Have you asked yourself what poetry is? Now's your chance to find out from the "experts".
If you remember one thing about writing in high school, it might be the phrase: poetry is all about showing, not telling. I’ve been thinking about that lately and I’ve come to the conclusion that in a way, there is truth in the phrase. Poetry does things to an audience. Poetry reveals. Especially if you happen to stumble across the right poem at the right moment. Really good poetry tells you something about the poet, about yourself, about the world, and about language (but not necessarily in that order).
So to celebrate National Poetry Day 2019 I dove into Instagram in search of revelations. I set myself the challenge of finding works that revealed something about what poetry is. This is what I found:
Poetry is Treasure
still i can't see one reason for someone to destroy such grace.
Poetry can be a way to treasure everything we hold dear. People, places, objects - anything that we keep close to our hearts. Anything worth protecting. They say a picture paints a thousand words. Well, words too can capture, preserve and celebrate.
Poetry is Feeling
Swallow your heartbreak with a slice of lemon and a lick of salt
Poetry can also be a way to navigate our most overwhelming feelings. For as long as the art form has existed (which is a pretty long time), poets have found words for the indescribable.
Poetry is Moment
I'm a poet that works with old hardback books, mostly Readers Digest condensed, and waste detritus - banana box cardboards, in order to make new publications. These I often make sitting on a bench or car bonnet in public spaces.
David Merritt is a poet who lives his art. He, like every poetry brick he prints (pictured above) is the full package. David lives the poetry experience. His work shows that poetry is a moment, a meeting, an unrepeatable first impression. Every poem carries pieces of where it was written. Every poem is a slice of life.
Poetry is Connection
Beyond the horizon
on strange but familiar shores
two kindred hearts dance
as the sun rises.
Poetry is a way of reaching out. C.S. Lewis once wrote that we read to know we are not alone. I think that writing poetry aims to connect in the same way.
Poetry is Reflection
Let's celebrate the night as climbing space, Dance across star paths. Let's write about the scattered lights we see in air, about how friction makes our atmosphere shine. Because sometimes the sky sings. and when we sing back, it is poetry.
Recently two of my favourite poets, Kaveh Akbar and Sarah Kay, have been writing and performing, and tweeting on one theme: The universe has already written the poem you were planning on writing. Poetry for me is finding beauty and reflecting it back through words. For me, poetry is not complicated. It’s a reflection of the miraculous and wonderful, and sometimes painful things we find in the world around us. Sometimes poetry is a mirror where we can find our own reflection, see ourselves in ways we never thought possible.
I hope that you have seen something in this post, in the poetry and the poets published here. I hope that this post begins a journey for you. May you read, treasure, feel, reflect, and be in the moment. May you continue to celebrate life through poetry.
Please support the poets that I have quoted above. Visit their Instagram profiles, share their work. Their talent demands recognition.