Elevating Experience avec Tous Les Mots Justes

I just had half a discussion about why we read poetry and I am thinking at the same time about why I write poetry. I think during the Teenage Angst Years, I wrote for the same reasons a lot of kids write: to Express My Inner Turmoil. This is not a bad reason for writing, and if you can also make money off it (which some novelists and pop singers do manage to do), that’s even better.

Sometimes I write to experiment with sound, as I did when I wrote a dozen poems about Jack of the Beanstalk with tons of internal rhyme to get a bit more of a constant rhythm going, or when I wrote twice that many about flamenco, using staccato short lines to try to convey the percussion’s feeling.

Sometimes I write to tell stories, as I do when I unpack what I think is going on in a Japanese woodblock. Sometimes I write to take a story that already is out there—Jack of the B, Xena Warrior Princess, the Wright brothers—and go deeper into it, looking at it from a few sides.

But sometimes it seems just a matter of elevating experience, giving dignity to our joys and sorrows as Marge Piercy might say, through finding all the exactly right words to make Truth happen.

5 comments on “Elevating Experience avec Tous Les Mots Justes

  1. Andrew Salchert says:

    Sue, I think we sometimes have a primal urge to sing – or be sung to. For me, personally, the urge can direct me to one of several genres. I might be in the mood for Beethoven or Iron Maiden. I might find solace in Goethe or Wallace Stevens. The analogies don’t really match, but you get the point. Truth may be the goal, but imagination or sentiment could just as easily be my need at any given time. Then, again – as you said – maybe it’s just a matter of sound, plain and simple. Poetry can tackle it all – and generally more spontaneously than prose.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Language101 says:

    Poetry is like the labours of Hercules n poets are the gods themselves.


  3. PJS says:

    “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter — it is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” — Mark Twain

    Liked by 1 person

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