I asked my audience what comes to mind when they hear the word poet, and the responses were interesting and lovely:
- a rose
- we are the sunlight watching itself with our closed eyes
- words that make me think
- creative, reflective, inspired, emotions
- truth teller that you didn’t know you already knew until you read the poem
- a colorful and musical mind, one that doesn’t slow, but appreciates everything swirling around it
- creative, imagination, outside of the box, expressive
Poetry exists in all forms, across all languages, in every culture, and on every continent. There is something within the human spirit that needs to express itself in artful language. We have to go back at least 5,000 years to find the earliest examples of written poetry, and who knows how long it existed as an oral tradition even before that?
And why is it still relevant here and now in this fast-paced world in which we are bombarded with more information than we are biologically wired to process?
I have some thoughts on that.
Poetry brings us into the present moment. A poem can slow your roll, make you appreciate something you didn’t even notice before, and it can narrow your focus to just one subject (a magical feat in a sea of distractions). The best poems will pull you in and hold you in a way that will make you want to be held.
Poetry helps us grieve our losses. Even those who rarely ever read poetry tend to look for it when it comes time to honor a loved one who has died. Ordinary words are not enough to capture the beauty of a life well lived. The broken heart needs something transcendent. The right volume of poetry can serve as a healing balm for the grieving long after the service is over and the friends and family go home. It is there at 2 a.m. and all the other times when no other comfort can be found.
Poetry is a force for social change. If you write an article about social injustice, it will appeal mostly to the rational mind of the reader. But if you write a poem, you can appeal to the reader’s emotions and possibly move them to action. Poetry offers a voice to the voiceless and serves as a way to protest various forms of oppression. Here are some fine examples of resistance poetry.
Poetry helps us understand ourselves and others. Poetic lines may be short, but the emotion they contain is vast. This is the basis of Bibliotherapy, a creative arts approach that uses poetry and other types of creative writing to support mental health, particularly with the difficulty of expressing feelings.
Poetry connects us to something greater than ourselves. Many poets have expressed that when they receive inspiration for a poem, it feels like the divine is flowing through them. An exceptional poem reaches beyond the personal to the universal, and we are transported, if only for a moment, to a higher plane of existence. We have that feeling of oneness and unity.
For me personally, poetry is my way of connecting with nature, with the Goddess in all of Her many aspects, and with what it means to be a woman in this lifetime. All three of these things overlap, weaving in and out of my lines.
I wrote this piece a while back in an attempt to describe what poets are and what we do, though I don’t think we could ever fit neatly into any definition. Whatever we are, our craft has remained relevant through peace and revolution, through feast and famine, through all that humanity has felt and endured, and it is my hope that poetry will always bear witness to the beauty and brilliance of the soul’s journey.
Jen Miller is an inspirational writer, sacred circle facilitator, and ovate-grade member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. Her passion is inspiring others to reconnect with their own power, magic, and creativity. Jen explores themes of earth-centered spirituality, women’s empowerment, transformation, nature, and healing in her poetry and prose. Her work has appeared in Rebelle Society, SageWoman, The Tor Stone, and others. She posts regularly on Facebook and Instagram @quillofthegoddess.