Monday, August 17, 2015

Three Poems of the Week ~ The Power of Poetry

I have read several poems in recent weeks about poets, poetry and writing poems: a poem's power to amaze, affirm, inform and inspire. I thought that, this week, you might enjoy looking at three poems that demonstrate the power of poetry. 

Our poetic friends Totomai, of totomai.net , Scott Hastie, of scotthastie.com, and Myrna, of  Daily Spirit, each penned a poem I wanted to make sure you did not miss.

Totomai, whose posts we enjoy for his richly colorful and gorgeous photography as much as for his poems, knocked me out with the power of his poem "Summer Clouds". He uses an understated approach to the events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that lends his powerful closing lines all the more impact. This poem shows us the effect a poem can have on its readers, and that a poem can make a difference in the world. I asked Totomai to tell us a bit about the writing of this poem.

Totomai: Having been to peace museums and reading the letters, poems and haikus of the suicide pilots gave me a different perspective about the war. As we all know, the Philippines was occupied by the Japanese during WWII. Here’s one of the haiku written by a kamikaze (suicide pilot) that has been stuck in my mind.

to bloom is good
to fall is better
i am a young cherry blossom
~ kamikaze pilot

Also, atomic bombing memorabilia were displayed in the museums.  Seeing the torn school uniforms, burnt lunch boxes, mini-bikes and school bags as well as the photos of Nagasaki and Hiroshima after the bombing gave me a lump in my throat. Most of the victims of the atomic bombing (war in general) were the children, the innocent people. I wrote  “Summer Clouds” from a point of view of a child who was just enjoying the summer breeze and then in an instant his world changed. I want to show an example of the horrors of war and that there are no winners in war.  






I fly my kite,
race it against the summer
clouds. The breeze
is always the winner.
Crows as close second.

I see the dragonflies beat 
the butterflies in their own 
duel. Colorful 
poppies say so. 

I listen to the hymn 
of a stream, never-
ending. 

I fly my kite 
but the sun seems closer, 
and the summer 
clouds thicker. 

My watercolor world 
turns to a charcoal 
painting

the day,
I lose my kite, 
and my eyesight. 

/totomai



Sherry: Wow. In everything I have read about those events, I don't think anything has hit me more strongly than the thought of that little boy, flying his kite, his world and ours changed forever in that moment. Totomai's poem illustrates just how much impact a poem can have, how it can put a personal face on war, make the reader feel, for those moments of reading it, what it must have been like to be that small boy. That image will stay in my mind for a long time. 

Scott Hastie, of scotthastie.com, recently wrote a poem that speaks to me, advising us, as poets, to stay true to our craft, to draw upon an inner "reservoir of light". I love the idea of that inner reservoir, and of bringing forth the poems lying within us. Scott described how this poem came about for him.

Scott: The truth is, in common with most of my poems, 'always stay loyal' began as no more than a series of randomly scattered fragments, recorded over time, just as they came to me...

Then slowly but surely 'the voice' comes through and begins to knit things together and even comes up with some entire fresh passages, sometimes in a rush - like the last stanza - which I would normally take as an affirmation...  and this grew from no fragment of its own, as the piece simply gathered its own momentum. Which is the way you want it!

Like most of my work this poem  is an emotive investigation into the dizzy world of human potential, seen from a spiritual perspective... It seeks to offer hope and persuade us of the chance of a joyous and honourable life.

For me, every time a poem of mine touches someone, that is all the success I can ever hope for. And simply powers me on to continue developing my voice. Which is the essence of what I believe my life is about... And why I am here! In that regard, I guess this means I have a sense of mission about what I do.





Always stay loyal
To that which feeds your soul,
Knowing, as mortal entities,
We can never go any higher
Than when we nourish
A little of God in ourselves.

Like a thin seam
Of silvered mineral within
There’s a hint of divinity here,
Some mystical suffused essence
That stays charged,
As if in the flow
Of an endless crystal stream,
Till our own sparking current fails…

This being so,
As our own life’s energies
Leak steadily away,
Every step we take
Is interlaced with goodness,
But that we knew it.

For deep, deep down
In the very wellhead of life,
Far beyond melancholy and despair,
Where real sweetness dwells,
There is an ever abundant
Reservoir of light
To be drawn upon by angels.

Fuel for a gathering readiness
That looks to ensure
We will be more than content,
When the time comes,
To simply surrender all we are.
And, in doing so,
Give sap,
Some shape, some form
To the many blossoms still to come.


Sherry: Sigh. Beautiful! "Always stay loyal to that which feeds your soul". And I love "the many blossoms still to come" - those poem-blossoms we will leave behind us as our legacy. I resonate with the idea that "every step we take is interlaced with goodness", if we but knew. A fine example of how a poem can affirm, uplift and inspire us. 

In a similar vein, our friend Myrna at Daily Spirit wowed me with a poem about poets the other week. She wrote about how we can read a poem, and be transformed in the reading. It is rather cool to think about how, as we visit back and forth in the blogosphere, our thoughts and words spark other poets' ideas and poems. It is such a glorious give and take, doing the thing we most love to do : write poems! I so wanted to know how this poem was born.

Myrna: I wrote this after reading various poems by different poets on Poem Hunter and in my own books.  I was seeking inspiration.  I felt so grateful to them, and realized that poets are like reflections of the world, helping us see the nuances of who we are.
  
The puppy poem I had read earlier.  It was the Poem of the Day, about a puppy who was destined to live his life in the same spot, chained. Naturally, I cried for that puppy and my thoughts carried me away to thoughts of the different types of chains there are.  For us, most are invisible.  I considered how sometimes I behave out of habit, or do things merely because they are expected of me.  This is not freedom.

To break those chains and make true choices, I need to engage in some introspection, and I need to learn from the wisdom others have already achieved.  For me, one way to do that is through reading poetry.  Writing poetry helps me to express what I'm learning by clarifying what I feel, think and believe.  What a wonderful process!
  
I am grateful to all the poets I read, especially those on-line, like the poets at Poets United.  I admire their willingness to share, to expose their thoughts in combinations of words that go beyond the surface, the logical, the concrete.  So my poem about poets is intended to thank them with my own attempt at weaving words that matter.

Thank you Sherry for selecting this poem.  You are not only one of those wise poets I admire, but an integral instrument in growing a community where poets can share, learn and enjoy. 





I read a sad poem about a puppy,
a metaphor for something
that wrapped my heart 
around my sleeve, bleeding,
while I became that feeling.

The poet has moved on,
now probably composing something happy,
clever or one of those poems that linger
in vastness of eternal moment, 
a glimpse of mystic silence.

Poets have such a beautiful, gentle, mysterious task
to use words as beams, illuminating 
little pieces in the kaleidoscope of our humanity.

Their role is about revelation, 
about light, sight, wonder.
Most of all,
their poems are a form of love
so powerful as to create 
a simple story about a puppy,
then transform me.


Sherry: Thank you so much, Myrna, for your kind words.  I love this poem so much! I like the idea of us using words "as beams illuminating little pieces in the kaleidoscope of our humanity". Wow. A wonderful description of how reading a poem can transform us. I am especially affected by "their poems are a form of love". I think you have hit on what lies at the heart of writing: sharing what we love, loving what we share, loving the sharing. 

"their poems are a form of love"

Our thanks to you, Totomai, Scott and Myrna, for the gift of your poems, and for being part of our poetic community. You each bring something very special to Poets United.

Sigh. I don't know about you, but these three poems and poets leave me feeling pretty happy to be a poet! Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


24 comments:

  1. Totomai's and Scott's poems are so rich in emotion and clearly reveal the poets soul. So beautiful! Thank you Sherry for including me with such wonderful poets. What an honor for me. I was going through some of my old poetry recently and am amazed how much I love to read and write poetry. It's been about five years since I've been doing this and find my life is so much richer now. Thank you again Sherry for the insspiration you beam out into the world.

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    1. Myrna, you are not only a great poet but a generous soul. Who else would be there first to compliment the other two. Thanks for sharing your writings and yourself.

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    2. I second Gabriella's comment. YOU are such a generous and unselfish poet in the blogosphere.

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  2. You are welcome, Myrna. Thank you for your beautiful poems - and heart. And for being a steadfast member of Poets United! We appreciate you!

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  3. Amazing. Each poem so different but each so wonderful.

    Thanks, Sherry.

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  4. Sherry, I really enjoyed reading these poems. The gift of love through words and we as readers are blessed by these fine writers. May their quills never dry.

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  5. Sherry, you chose wisely and selected very strong examples.

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  6. Sherry, you have shared some excellent poems by three who so often participate here at PU. Totomai, Scott, and Myrna, you are each such talented poets who definitely deserve to be recognized.

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  7. Thank you Sherry for your insightful selection of these gems so full of truth, power, richness, revelation and love...all for poetry...Thank you Totomai, Scott and Myrna...

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  8. Thanks Sherry for including my poem alongside Myrna’s and Scott’s. I am humbled.

    I remember the first time reading Myrna’s poem and I did agree that poems could very well serve as inspiration to the readers. Reading someone else’s poems is always a pleasure.

    Scott’s poem is also a reminder that while others can influence you and/or your writing, being true to yourself or your craft is very important to keep that fire within you burning. You have to discover, rediscover that flare to reach out others.

    I had abandoned poetry few years ago and shifted to photography. But online sites like Poets United ignited that flame once again, to write poems. And the above poems “Poets” and “Always Stay Loyal” are testaments about the power of online sites / poetry group as well as poetry itself.

    Let’s continue to inspire each other. Keep writing everyone and of course, don’t forget to share:-)

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    1. Your poem, too, demonstrates the impact on a reader of the poet's unique view of an event, that makes the reader think about it in new ways. Thank you for the gift of your poetry, Totomai - I am so glad you returned to writing poems, and share them with us. And thanks for the vibrancy and color of your wonderful photos, which allow us stay-at-homes to travel the world every week.

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  9. I always love when a thought you have is defined and expressed more clearly than you can manage yourself - three talented poets who embody the essence of hope ad love...and colour...

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  10. Thank you for featuring these three talented people this week Sherry :D their poems speak volumes and there is much to learn from each of them :D

    Lots of love,
    Sanaa

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  11. A wonderful post, and I love these poets and their poems!!!

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  12. Just getting back to my "cave" in NH... planning on catching up to every one and My day starts with these three lovely poets... what a special treat. Thanks!
    ZQ

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  13. Three fabulous, inspirational poems Sherry...so wonderful to hear from the poets about how they created their masterpieces.

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  14. Sherry, thanks for sharing. You really did pick three wonders. What you say about each one is right on target. I can usually find inspiration for my day, reading other poets sometimes. These three are perfect examples.

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  15. I'm happy you enjoyed these offerings, my friend. It is my pleasure to feature our talented members every week. I love my job!

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  16. Such a lovely mingling of creative souls, both with my fellow poets and in all the responses too - thanks so much inspired Sherry for making all this magic happen...
    With Love & Light to all from Scottie xxx

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    1. You all provide the magic, I just scoop it up and scatter it about, like fairy dust. Thanks for taking part and for being part of Poets United, my friend.

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  17. Thank you the feature of these 3 lovely poems Sherry ~ They are a joy to read ~

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  18. Marvelous selections, Sherry! I enjoyed them all.

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  19. Thank you for this, Sherry. It speaks to me tonight beyond magic--your narrative and interview along with Totomai's unforgetable image, Scot's gift of the inner reservoir of infinite sweetness and Myrna's xray of poetry's power. Wow! This is my favorite of your compilations, though I would happily buy a book of Poets United Poems of the Week.

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  20. A traumatic war subject but cleverly presented by totomai in a pleasant sort of way that one is not further traumatized. Scot true to life of a poet made a natural progression as one cruised along. Myrna further lent credence on how a poet was to react which were of benefit to those working on their given talents. A combination of 3 talented minds. Thanks to you Sherry!

    Hank

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