I just read a poem or two. It’s a rainy day and it seemed like a good thing to do. It reminded me that poets exist. Many more than we will ever know. It reminded me that we might be among those poets. And we might not even know it.
There are 150 psalms in the Hebrew Bible. Each a poem. To pray as a Jew ensures that you’ll read at least one poem, in the form of a psalm, everyday.
Poems remind us that we are meaning makers. They remind us that grammar and syntax, quite literally, don’t get the last word. They remind us that three of us can experience the same thing and interpret it in a thousand different ways. They remind us that it’s okay to be partial, tentative, broken, confusing, and fragmented, but also whole, confident, audacious, and assertive.
Poems have power. They can remind us of our biases. They can call attention to our metaphors. They can disturb and soothe. They can distract and focus. They can guide and mislead. They can chastise and invigorate. They can evoke and suppress. They can connect and they can alienate. There’s power in a poem.
I read an article recently that said that all the politicians are hiring poets to staff their communications teams. It filled me with hope and dread. It reminded me of the fundamental emptiness of poetry and its elegant neutrality. It made me fear the possibility of weaponized poetry and the devouring appetite of politics.
So I’m telling myself: read a poem a day. Because everything that a poem can do, I need that too. And if I don’t someone else will. And who knows where the road of words will lead?