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“The poet speaks to all men of that other life that they have smothered and forgotten.”—Dame Edith Sitwell
When financial cutbacks hit the school system, the arts are usually the first things to go. But they should be the last. We need art, music, poetry, dance. We need it in our lives every day, not only on special occasions when we dress up and go to the theater to watch spectacular artists performing spectacularly. Where poetry meets the mind and dance frees the body, we escape the bonds of earth and circumstance, and live beyond our time and space. The arts reach us on a soul-ular level, lifting us up from the humdrum of everyday chores to vivid realms of imagination and possibility. Creativity sparks, imagination rises to meet the challenge, and inventors conceive anew. Without the arts, creative expression dies, and school can degenerate into a memory test of names, dates, and places.
Today, I invite you to write poetry. Have you every tried it? When was the last time? If you never have, here’s a new experience to enjoy. I hadn’t written poetry in thirty years. But I sat down to write a money management book, and one day, poetry flowed out. It was surprising. It was fun. I didn’t realize how I’d missed it.
Here’s a sample from my poem, Road Repairs:
“Fourteen men in four-ton trucks
Rope the road that twists and bucks
They brand a hot new blue-black skin
Where once old pock-marked scars had been.
I, too, have shouldered such a load
With layers thick of rocky road
Buried deep beneath new skins
I paste on top to hide my sins.
And I will bear more troubles well
Because this road has led through hell
Resurfacing in brighter days
I slowly learn to change my ways….”
You don’t have to be Robert Frost, Dylan Thomas, or Maya Angelou. Just a human being. It costs nothing to write a poem. Just a pen and piece of paper and you can play with million-dollar words, with crazy, happy rhymes, with buzzing, beautiful sounds of syllables. Clash them, mash them, make words up. Flow with it. Don’t criticize or edit yourself today. Experiment. Write for the joy of writing, for expressing your soul’s beauty. Write your feelings, your passion, your pity, your fury. Free associate, then connect the dots. What have you learned? What lies deep within you that needs art, poetry, music to find its way out?
Write something. Paint something. Sing. Put a record on and dance. Just for the joy of it.
“I have the soul of an artist, and music and poetry fill my life.”
Here’s a little poem that always made my mother laugh with recognition. Now, years later, it’s found new resonance with my sisters and I:
Just a line to say I’m living
that I’m not among the dead
Though I’m getting more forgetful
and mixed up in the head.
I got used to my arthritis
to my dentures I’m resigned
I can manage my bifocals
but God, I miss my mind.
For sometimes I can’t remember
when I stand at the foot of the stairs
If I must go up for something
or have I just come down from there.
And before the fridge so often
my poor mind is filled with doubt
Have I just put food away
or come to take some out?
And there’s times that it is dark
and my night cap’s on my head
I don’t know if I am retiring
or just getting out of bed.
So if it’s my turn to write to you
there’s no need to get sore
I may think that I have written
and don’t want to be a bore.
So remember that I love you
and wish that you were near
but now it is nearly mail time
So I must say goodbye dear.
There I stand before the mail box
my face so very red
Instead of mailing you my letter
I opened it instead.
– Author unknown