The Need To Know Your “Why” as a Poet To Do What You Do
Reflections & convictions from a Mathematician-turned-Poetpreneur
Can Poetry Change the World?
One needs a stronger sense of purpose to pursue their passion and live life on their own terms. And I wanted to find the purpose of poetry when I had this idea of becoming a Poetpreneur.
Poetry, as I believe, is the art of stringing words in the best order to say a story, to evoke an emotion to make one feel a particular way, intently and intensely. But how far can poetry go to change the world?
Can poetry calm the chaos, bring a battle to halt, comfort a desperate soul, bring in hope to hold on to life, earn love, make feel loved or say, pay your bill? The questions can be endless but finding answers for at least a few was vital for me to pursue my passion as a career.
Finding poetry in rhymes & chants
As someone lured to words, the sounds it evoked, the unseen rhythm & harmony it brought along, poetry had always been a part of my life. Be it in the nursery rhymes sung by Preeti Sagar, or in the rhythm from the stressed & unstressed syllables while chanting shlokas or in the beats of an unworded song of silence that I feel inside of me all the time, poetry has always had me enraptured.
There was always a kind of urge to pen down feelings and find ways to encapsulate even the everyday incidents in something extraordinary. And I did it in verses.
Believe me or not, when I started out I was mad enough to capture even mosquitoes and cockroaches in creative imaginations just for fun. And of course, nature was my first love, thanks to my alma mater, Madras Christian College, know for its scrub jungle.
What started just as a passion, a way of expression soon turned out to be the compass of my life. Consciously or unconsciously I was seeking poetry to understand the complexities of life and trust me, poetry has led me to better places.
Gitanjali — Biggest influence on my poetry (and life) journey
Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali is one of the biggest influences on my poetry (and life) journey and honestly, I don’t remember how I landed up with this book. But one thing that I clearly remember is that the very first poem in it had me in tears. Here is that piece:
Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure,
This is my prayer to thee, my Lord-strike,
strike at the root of penury in my heart,
Clouds heap upon clouds and it darkens
Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure
Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure.
This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again,
and fillest it ever with fresh life.
This little flute of a reed thou hast carried over hills and dales,
and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new.
At the immortal touch of thy hands
my little heart loses its limits in joy
and gives birth to utterance ineffable.
Thy infinite gifts come to me
only on these very small hands of mine.
Ages pass, and still thou pourest,
and still there is room to fill.
More interestingly, I couldn’t move on to the rest of the poems and I didn’t force myself to do so too. I sat with the poem. Some poems come to you to prepare you for an intense experience while some others come in as an assurance that your path is headed the right way. Gitanjali has poems that make me feel both ways.
Poetry & its various perspectives
That cannot-be-worded, cannot-be-explained, cannot-be-seen kind of intense and intimate feeling that poetry brings along is what makes me want to read, write and gift poetry. There’s a magic in the kind of mysticism that every poem holds. It can shed light on different perspectives and an honest poem also holds the potential to even make you a different person in a single verse.
For example, the following lines,
“For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.”
from the poem The Brook, by Alfred Lord Tennyson, has grown upon me with its ability to bring our various perspectives as follows:
In my schooling years, upon my first read, I took upon to its literal meaning like even if we human beings visit the Brook or not, it is going to keep flowing. I must say, at that time, I was lured to the music of the poem, the rhyme and rhythm that I didn’t look beyond this perspective.
When I was in college, I got to a place where the repetition of the line would give me an assurance that in spite of broken relationships, I can still go on with life. The line came as a comfort for my bruised heart and made me take it all lightly and move forward.
In my early twenties, the profoundness of the line left me awestruck. It’s only then I got the metaphorical meaning of the eternal existence of nature as against the impermanence of human lives.
And as I write this, there is a new perspective coming along. What if the “I” in the line is a symbolism of our soul? Doesn’t it make more sense? Our bodies (symbolized as men, here) will perish but the soul, the vital force of our existence, is for eternity. Wow! Poetry never fails to amaze me.
But wait, can amazement alone bring about a change?
I bet, it does.
A single poem or even better, a single powerful verse is like a viable seed that can grow upon you in years, bearing the fruits of change rooted in profound perspectives. That is poetry for you.
- Poetry can change the world, one person at a time (in the case of page poetry) or one gathering at a time (in the case of spoken word poetry).
- It helps shed many inhibitions, get clarity and also think laterally.
- Poetry holds the potential to bring in peace or start a protest; better handled with care!
- With its ability to hold different perspectives it only gets better with time.
- Poetry helps in appreciating the world around and the inside of us with much more intimacy.
- And if you ask me if it can help paying your bills, well, with technology at hand, it certainly can help earn a decent income. This endeavor, Promising Poetry, is an example (more on that in upcoming posts). A glimpse of how I do this is here.
Well, if you want to know what promising poetry has to say, then read this.
May poetry find its way to the doors or atleast windows of your heart.
Hi, I’m Seethalakshmi (aka) Preethi, an Indian Poetpreneur who can help you find solace in reading, writing, and/or gifting poetry. Drop an email at email@example.com to get a customised poetry gift or just to get honest feedback for your poetry.
More articles and book reviews on poetry can be found on my website www.promisingpoetry.org.