What did you learn from this week’s lecture with Judith Beveridge about writing poetry?
A poet is someone who brings their attention to the moment and sees things that others cannot. They open us up to seeing things by expanding our consciousness. They allow the reader to see and understand the things that cause us joy and suffering, and the role and purpose of our existence on earth.
Throughout history, poetry has been the most powerful form of exploring deep spiritual questions. Spirituality is seen as broader than Religion and the breath acts as an interpreting spirit. Poetry allows us to see how we gather intellectually and emotionally with the world.
Poets always find ways to say things that are different. Judith Beveridge, for example, describes the sound of tinkling yachts as “the little shovelfuls of laughter children scatter on the grass.” Judith finds an array of ways to describe such an ordinary sound, showing the reader how images open up to other images, like how music opens up to new ideas. She is able to make the ordinary seem extraordinary. Poetic language is the only type of language that gives us the world through the word, and it is through form and rhythm that a poet will be most convincing. Poetry is also a language that is more musical than any other.
The poet needs to be holy in small things and the poet’s eye needs to make the familiar extraordinary. The Anglo-Saxons called a poet a scop, which is someone who imparted shape onto the formless. Through the works of Judith Beveridge, we can see how appropriate this title is, as she effectively imparts shape onto an object (a yacht) that we would immediately assume as formless or ordinary.
In order for a poem to be successful, it has to come from the poet’s own life. It has to touch the psyche at a communal level. Poetry is shown to be the vehicle for transmitting the story, values, and experiences of different people. We can see this through Francis Webb’s ‘Five days old’, where he not only explores the inner nature of this child but also his own. Webb opens us up to the immensities of life and meditates upon this child and how it is expanded upon his consciousness.
Poetry is important because it reflects the emotions and character of society. It allows us to pay closer attention to the world around us and shows that nothing is really irrelevant. To conclude, I will leave you with a quote that I believe beautifully sums up the meaning of poetry. “Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.” – Carl Sandburg