What’s the Good of Poetry?


After a week of distractions and a chaotic to-do list, I look forward to this afternoon at Lighthouse   Writers’ Workshop. Twice a month people gather in a grand old Denver mansion and write for an  hour or two. I find  comfort in seeing people bend to their keyboards or notebooks, all quiet, all  intent–or at least looking so. The atmosphere just keeps murmuring, “Write something.” This week I want to write solace, to pen solitude in the midst of all those other breathing beings.

I will take my journal and a folder of poetry drafts, a favorite pen and no expectations of success. Today I will write poetry as refuge, as meditation. Whether or not it helps heal a broken world or a broken heart, today’s workshop is dedicated to calm nerves and deep thought. The TAO says, “Do your work; then step back.” This week my work has been hard. It’s time to step back and reclaim my identity, to search what Yeats called the “lumber room” in my head and see what’s there. When the busy world pinches, poems heal by urging me toward truth, and that’s a kind of beauty, even if a terrible beauty. If all I see is a scaffolding that blocks the sunrise, I will have found something outside that connects to something inside. I will have added two hours of uninterrupted peace to my life.

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