What do you do with poetry?

I love poems but sometimes I do not know what to do with them.

When a poem speaks to me, it is a super intense feeling, like I glow and rain at the same time. I leave words. I leave time, I reread the poem a few times, trying each time to read it again for the first time. And then – such intense emotion, a pressure, a wanting to engage with the poem and the person behind it and my feelings they evoked more deeply. From that rises a sort of helplessness, and of being lost. What do you do with a poem that speaks to you? Sometimes I copy a poem into my planner or print it and hang it up in my room.

But then what? What do you do with poems?

With a book or a story, it is so much easier. You can revel in all that you just read and lived through. There is so much more material. You can go back and relive favourite moments either by rereading them on paper, or by letting them unfold again in your head. You can look for sentences that were especially neat or profound or whatever. Remember the characters, let them come alive in your head. Come up with different outcomes in situations. Look up discussions of the book on the internet or talk to friends about them. Think about the stringency of the story line. Look for stories by the side, read between the lines. There is so much more to do. And most stories are less controversial and more shareable.

Maybe I am missing out on something and my understanding of poetry is still defective. But maybe I am onto something.

Maybe books and stories are closer to our everyday experience of our lives. We know how to interact with characters and stories we have met with. We do so all the time. In fact, we do hardly anything but move around situations in our heads, thinking about other people, events to come, events past, connecting ideas, things to be done, yadda yadda. We do it every day, almost every waking minute not focused on some other task (and this is probably what mindfulness and meditation is supposed to get us out of for a while).

But poems, they are more transcendent. The heaviness, the pressure I feel radiating from a poem that speaks to me is, perhaps, of the same kind as the deep glow of my magic moments, les instants radieux. They are profound, but they escape direct interaction. They are more momentary, and perhaps best unexplained, quite unlike everything else. They bestow a sort of shimmer, a meaning outside words, to us quite straightforwardly and that makes them feel momentous and in need of further interaction. But maybe they work in a way that escapes abstraction.

And so all we can adequately do in answer to art that touches us is try to share it with others, and make more art.

But that does not really solve the problem, it just tries to explain it. It’s all I got so far.

So what do you do with poetry that speaks to you?

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