Writing is what we do in the world –

– and as ephemeral as it might sometimes seem, the making of poems is a necessary act, one that allies itself with hope rather than despair.

In my ongoing search for justification, vindication, or to put it blunt: permission to write, I just stumbled across some very wise words by Gregory Orr:

As a poet, I’ve always hated that poetry often intimidates people. May people I know feel that poetry is a test they can only pass if they are smart enough or sensitive enough and most fear they will fail. Many refuse the test altogether – never read poetry – for fear of failure.

Somehow something has gone wrong with poetry in our culture. We have lost touch with its purpose and value, and in doing so, we have lost contact with essential aspects of our own emotional and spiritual lives.

There is something special about poetry (…), but it is not what most people think. It’s not that poetry is written by very intelligent people or very sensitive people and is appreciated only by others of equal intelligence and sensitivity. What’s special is quite the opposite of this elitist notion of poetry. What’s special is that poetry is written down or composed in every culture on the planet at this moment – …

Gregory Orr, Poetry As Survival

12 Comments

  1. I love Orr’s work, have been following his poetry for many decades. Good prose writer and excellent teacher.
    “poetry is written down or composed in every culture on the planet at this moment”…the “at this moment” part is what’s so sweet.

  2. I absolutely love this. This notion of elitism, perpetuated in, for example, the all-too-often unbearable poetry published in, say, The New Yorker, is the pits. Here’s to a revolution in the perception of poetry! Not just for the myopic flower-sniffers anymore! (That said, I am very much a myopic flower-sniffer.)

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