The Soapbox Papers

The Soapbox Papers is my two-cents worth.

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Location: Beloit, Wisconsin, United States

I am a cross between Tinkerbell and Calamity Jane.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

On Poets and Poetics

I was visiting http://www.easylum.net/ the other day and was directed to a great article in the Washington Post about poet Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost -- fascinating! But not at all surprising. I understood completely.

I have long held that poets are not made, they are born. There is something genetic, I believe, that predisposes a person to survive on words, to sweat and breathe and leave a trail of words behind. There is a different viewpoint among poets (though not the same view, by any means) than the viewpoint of those who are not poets. Somewhat skewed, perhaps - but poets have an insight unmatched by others. The goal of poets is to speak of that insight, to be heard, to touch others, to be understood. Poets have a bit of vanity in their veins. They care for their work with parental concern, they grieve when it is taken, abused by misconceptors, and destroyed.

Any idiot can read the books and write a "poem," indeed, some don't even read the books and write a singular poem. But to BE A POET does not mean one has written a poem. In fact, there are poets who have never, ever written a poem as we know it, but who have expressed themselves in other ways that leave no mistake as to their poetic genetic identity.

The captive poet in the above article is a real honest-to-god poet. While it is a shame all his work was not returned to him, he goes about his freedom to write more and more - in fact, it is as much a need for him to do so as it is to eat and sleep and breathe the air. What works were not returned to him are there, somewhere. All words committed to paper and shared are there, somewhere. Even if they have been destroyed, they exist in the mind of he who condemned the papers to burn. The poet has been successful. He has expressed himself and been understood, just as surely as his work reached his fellow captives. He can write again what he feels has been lost -- or he can maintain that he has reached someone with words, and that someone has reacted, and go on to write about other things.

That is what a poet does.
Smokey

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