What is poetry?
Poetry is pulling images out of the sky, the air, the universe, and bringing them down to earth. ~Marisa De Franceschi
The chairs were fairly comfortable. The room was not crowded, but neither was it bare. It was filled with people who love the written word, and attended to hear it read aloud. A treat. I must admit that my appreciation for poetry has been acquired—like the taste of beer or olives or octopus. And now that I have acquired it, I like to feed it.
Recently an opportunity to feed the poetry beast was offered at my local library. Three poets from Windsor, Ontario were featured, and provided the audience with three very different flavours of the genre. To say that one poet was better than another would be a misnomer, but of the three, one appealed to my sense of the familiar more than the other two. A second poet drew on the raw realities of life beautifully—but her poetry was to my mind uncomfortable. The third was a true poet, in that if poetry was not his first calling, it is most definitely his primary form of expression. His was an educated palate and his poetry brilliantly executed. I was jealous of his implementation of the English language.
I tend to understand and like the simple written word—if its imagery is too opaque or its metaphors too tangled, I lose patience, and am reminded of all those times at university when I was expected to explicate a poem rather than enjoy it. I love Marisa De Franceschi’s definition of poetry quoted above—“pulling images out of the sky, the air, the universe and bringing them down to earth”. When a poet does not do that, does not bring their poetry down to earth, I am lost in their wordiness.
De Franceschi’s book of poetry, “Random Thoughts”, is rift with images brought down to earth. One of her poems, called “Be Still” spoke to my depths. She said that it was derived from her personal observations of the ships on Lake Erie that she could see from the windows of her summer cottage:
“Out on the Lake,
When the gale turns ferocious
There is only one thing for the mammoth ships to do.
Stop and stay put.
They do not attempt to force themselves along the seaway,
They sit still and wait.
They do not go up against it, try to fight it.
They wait for the winds to calm,
Wait for them to have their say.
The ships will continue their journey
When the tempest dies down
And gives permission
To head out again
To deliver the goods.”
I think this poem is especially useful as we venture out into the fray of everyday life–sometimes we just have to sit still and wait and let the tempest die down in order to head out again.