Ode to the Poet

 

Feelings, undefined emotions,

burrow themselves into my body.

They hide from my frustrated mind

that no longer has the power

to transform them into patterns

that can make sense of my world.

 

My feelings have become thoughts.

But do my thoughts really matter?

What use are my unstable thoughts

when thoughts cannot bring meaning

or define and translate to purpose?

 

My thoughts have become words

but more than just letters scribbled on a page.

They imprison my rampant emotions

in concrete bars of black and white

  while their shadows create shades of gray

  that can express the sorrow of knowing

  and the pain of feeling too much.

 

My words have become precious poems.

They cascade through the neurons of my brain.

They gush with hidden meaning into the sea of life.

They are a mirror reflection on my pool of pain.

I set them free to offer hope where there is no hope.

to offer love where there is no love.

 

My poems have become biographies in poetry

that share the scattered fragments of my secret life.

They have brought unity to my mind, heart, and soul

so that I have been set free to float forever

with rhythm and rhyme throughout the universe,

searching for a receptive ear, a vibration of resonance,

a union that can give birth, a new breath that can be shared,

so the world can go on breathing.

 

I am a poet shamelessly pedaling my poems on 96th street.

I dare to place a price on something that is priceless.

I offer my body while I hold out my hand for a dollar

from a someone  who values passion enough to buy it.

My purpose is to offer mind pleasure to the desperate

while I strive to comfort a searching heart with a smile

and draw the buyer’s soul into a holy union with my soul.

 

But I am really just a poet, just another lost soul

trying to touch and connect with another lost soul,

so that our two fragile hearts can beat as one heart

so that we can create a strong sacred space together

beyond the brittle boundaries of place and time.

 

 

                As Poet Laureate I represent the Comox Valley Arts Council. Our mission is “to support, promote and celebrate our vibrant inclusive arts community”. Since 1965, the Arts Council has acted as advocates for writers, artists, and musicians in their search for excellence. They help provide a platform where we can all work together to make our community a better place to live. My field of the arts is poetry. As poet Laureate it is my role to encourage and promote my fellow poets in our attempts to express our deeper feelings. We all strive to help each other find clearer expression and meaning so we can share our hopes and dreams with our community.

                Poetry is about feelings. In the present poetic atmosphere (like the rest of society) we seem to have lost our bearings; we are floating without power and purpose. We have poetic forms where we write poems by blotting out words on a page. We have wandered into some absurd strata where whether or not we use gerunds and participles somehow equates with good poetry. We have made poetry into an academic pursuit instead of a form of communication between hearts and souls. In the process we have narrowed our audience to just our fellow poets who are pursuing the academic forms of poetry. As poet laureate I feel it is my role to help bring poetry back into the rest of my community, with the people who have lost touch with the healing power of poetry.

                The one bright spot where poetry is reaching out to the public is in the field of rap and the spoken word. Rap is the message of the young to the young filled with passion. The lyrics are powerful. The emotional delivery conveys the feelings behind the lyrics. The music, the steady beat, supplies the rhythms that carry the lyrics. The power of The Spoken Word is that our voice, presentation, facial expressions, body language, the rhythms of our words, lines, and stanzas, and the very vibrations of our hearts and souls take us into the hearts and souls of other human beings. However here too, we often run into situations where the emotions and the delivery sometimes detract from the words themselves. When we recall these poetic performances, we remember the faces and emotions but we seldom remember the words. We ride on someone else’s feelings instead of creating or own as readers. It is like watching a stage drama as opposed to going to a movie. Poetry above all is about the written word, a group of carefully chosen words that can be read and recalled over and over again adding layers of meaning each time we read it to the point where we may consciously or subconsciously memorize it. A written poem can be the reader’s portal into understanding their own personal meaning for life.

                Poetry is not about form; it is about the message. For the poet it is sitting still with our eyes closed and waiting for our soul to activate our mind with words, thoughts, and images and working them until they express those feelings in such a way that they can be shared with another human being. It is creating a shiver down our own spines, a feeling we can pass on to everyone who reads our poems. When our words reach a responsive reader or listener there is a certain amount of satisfaction in the energy exchange. There is a breath of fullness, an exhalation of relief at being heard and felt within someone else’s depths. There can be a connection either felt live through their non-verbal reaction or through their written response – them knowing it and you knowing it. It is experiencing an energy vibration, a resonance, where the reader says, “Yesssss”to a feeling.  It is creating an “aha moment” where the writer and the reader share a moment of understanding about the meaning of life.

                Poetry is ultimately meant to be shared. Poetry, above all, is a form of communication. The form has to enhance the communication of thoughts and feelings. The reader or listener should not have to wonder about the meaning of the poems; it should explode from the page and penetrate the heart and soul. A poet should create words, lines, and stanzas that flow with clarity and purpose. If that means adding a few bridge words to enhance the flow, so be it. If it means using rhyme and meter so be it. If it means using capital letters and punctuation, so be it.  Yes there is room for all forms, but as poets, we must be conscious of what we are communicating. Fractured words and phrases have their purpose but that is to show uncertainty, confusion, or the wisps of a wandering mind. If that is what we wish to communicate, then so be it. It is our responsibility as poets to first be clear in our message and to choose the appropriate form to get that message across to our listeners and readers.

                The world still needs poetry. As old institutions and traditions fail us, we need something wise and ancient to remind us that the meaning of life lies somewhere between thoughts from the mind, feelings from the heart, and purpose and meaning from the soul. From the days of Homer, poetry has been an essential way of sharing the feelings and emotions behind the stories that have shaped civilizations. In the process of creating and sharing poetry, we begin to see and share the meaning of life and remind ourselves we all have an opportunity, a privilege, and a responsibility to contribute to our collective humanity.

 

Lawrence J.W. Cooper

Poet Laureate, Comox Valley