Friday, April 03, 2009

What is Poetry?

The Doll

What is poetry,
she asked, fetching
it to me with full
hands. How could I
answer the woman?
I do not know what
it is any more than
she. I guess it must
be marks on tender
skin, bearers of sin,
cool cups of rain
and bottles of tears
collected on midnight
trains from the eyes
of old men, old women
and infants traveling
to God knows where,
it hangs and is lifted
from our hair
goes onward and
onward speaking
itself, tripping us
as we debark
metal stairs.

Photo by Sara. Used with permission. Poem based on Song of Myself, Section 6, by Walt Whitman.

Next week's poetry prompt: Let's try If words were... [choose an object: chocolate, soda cans, envelopes, a pillow, whatever!]. What would you do to or with the words? Or what would they do to you or someone else? Give us sights, sounds, fragrance, textures, tastes. Post your offering by Thursday evening, April 9, for possible feature and definite links at High Calling Blogs. Drop me a comment and your link URL here.

Yvette's It is Done
All the Links for the Writing Prompt (see "You Tried It")
Cindy's Awakening to Silence
nAncY's Logs and Stones
Laure's 6 O'Clock Evening Hour
High Calling Blogs' Erring on the Side of Oddness
Erica's Spring Snow
TUC's Liar

YOU TRIED IT (If words were prompt):
Cindy's Arbitrarily Speaking
Monica's Maui Words
Lynne's If Words Were Arrows
Jim's If Words Were
Warren's Words
Deb's If the Poem Fits
nAncY's chew on this, the one, if, flashes, again
Sarah's If words were
JoAnn's If Words Were...the Word Is
Brian's A love of language...
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Anonymous cas said...

Love it. Yesterday, Robert Pinsky, 3-time national Poet Laureate (a title he claimed to dislike), answered the question, "What is poetry?" with this:

Poetry is making works of art from the sound of language.

10:13 AM  
Anonymous cas said...

I like your answer better, though.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Letters From Midlife said...

I think a lot of people are intimidated by poetry, both reading it and writing it, so that's why they ask "what is poetry?" I think they want to know if it is something they can do themselves without worrying about rules. I know my kids were always worried when the language arts assignment in school included reading or writing poetry because they were afraid they might interpret it wrong or do it wrong.

10:18 AM  
Blogger Letters From Midlife said...

p.s. - I also remember taking a poetry class in college and having a great time writing poems only to have them picked apart by the professor and other students. I didn't do much with it after that.

10:20 AM  
Blogger sojourner said...

i like this idea: "fetching
it to me with full
hands." -- it makes me imagine that the question is big and difficult to answer - it creates a burden for the one asking and for the one giving the answer

11:04 AM  
Blogger nAncY said...

a journey of words...i like yours.

1:17 PM  
Blogger JoAnn said...

Wow...I love this one.

"bottles of tears
collected on midnight
trains from the eyes
of old men, old women
and infants traveling..."

stands out for me.

3:27 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

The words just flowed and I was carried along.
I think poetry is the tiny treasure found in a vast ocean of words.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

L.L., When I come here, I almost always just sigh and rest in the way you do what you do.

God has gifted you, and I am glad you choose to share it. I am blessed here.

5:13 PM  
Blogger Laure said...

i like this so well ...

"marks on tender skin"

i wear the scars.

5:37 PM  
Blogger Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

I'm guessing she is right, what poetry is...
such is this:
"tripping over chewing-gum-mottled
metal stairs."

You make me want to keep looking.

7:31 PM  
Blogger Laure said...

you're invited ...

8:03 PM  
Blogger Warren Baldwin said...

Just found this site. It may take me a bit to catch on to it. The poetry prompt ... this is an invitation to us to write a poem based on the prompt, right? And where do we submit it?

Also, I traced a link and found a Christianity Today article you wrote (I think it was in "Today's Christian?). How do you get submitted to their online journal?

1:29 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

These words:

it hangs and is lifted
from our hair
goes onward and
onward speaking
itself, tripping us
as we debark
metal stairs.

...a memory.

What gifts you have!

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Monica said...

Amazing, what these writing prompts do for me. Thanks (again) for the impetus. Here's mine:

12:35 PM  
Blogger sarah said...

I tried this.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Lynne said...

ok, so I put my attempted poem on my blog and the link here?
(I'm new to this site)

thanks for the inspiration

3:05 AM  
OpenID cindyhan111 said...

ha! I know nothing of poetry!! I'm in it for the free therapy!!! :)

12:16 PM  
Blogger Warren Baldwin said...

I posted my poem at:


11:51 AM  
Blogger deb said...

I'd like to submit a humble answer to the prompting. The post is dated April 7th, Titled: If the Poem Fits, on my blog.

thanks for the challenge.

2:43 PM  
Blogger sarah said...

Back again, hoping I have my comment in the right place this time, *blush*. I tried the "if words were" prompt, although not properly, and not very well, and probably too late anyway!

I love your writing so much.

5:55 AM  
Blogger JoAnn said...

Just a note to let you know that I've tried the writing assignment:

12:51 PM  

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