What Poetry Can Do For Humankind

Poetry Creates Connectedness

I believe we have lost our connection to everything. We have no connection to the land because we never grow anything we eat. We have no respect for animals because others do our killing; we just show up to eat at McDonalds. We are not connected to the past, because it is dead and there’s no money in it. We can’t even stop to grieve, let alone take the time to study history. We are not connected to beauty unless it can be bought and sold. We aren’t even connected to ourselves. Most of us are trying to change everything from the size of our waist to the size of our assets. We are trained from birth to fear anyone who is not like us, which only means we know only ourselves. If someone is in a state of fear, they cannot connect with anyone or any place. Hiding is the opposite of connecting.

Poetry, on the other hand, reduces fear by connecting people, places and feelings. Wherever I go in this world—Iceland, Vigeland, Montana—I can set up my poetry shop and connect with the people of those places.

Poetry is $$Sterile$$

 Poetry is sterile. By that I mean uncontaminated with money. Religion is contaminated because it’s tied to the offering plate. The media pretends to connect us, but jerks us around, lies and cheats, dumbs us down because it’s all about advertising money. If we stay fearful, we’ll buy whatever they’re selling because it’s supposed to make our life better. Driving a four-wheel-drive SUV will somehow make us better, more powerful, safer, happier. What a con! SUVs are destroying our air quality, driving up the price of oil, keeping us broke, and are only safer if they’re hit by a regular car. 

Let’s look at a few of the cons perpetrated by the media to keep us in fear:

  • e coli (this could be eliminated if the FDA could enforce their own rules)
  • Y2K (which had people thinking Earth was coming to an end)
  • Killer bees (which had housewives throughout the South living in a Raid bug spray cloud)
  • The Iraqi boogeyman (an excuse to perpetuate a war that is sinking our country under a mound of debt and a pile of hostility, while our vital services to the poor and our children are dismissed).

Poetry won’t coerce either you or me into using our Visa Card. It cannot con you into action.

Poetry is Power

Poetry in the past was romance, rhyme, and entertainment dealing mostly with the heart. It has ended up in limericks and Hallmark cards. I am talking here of the Blakes, 1800s, Robert Service, etc.    

Today, poetry has become a wireless, subterranean language. It serves as a spiritual truth serum. If you want to measure a society’s hope, read poetry. If you’re going to gauge the truth of a culture, read poetry. If you desire to understand the power of a country, see how compassionate its poets are for the downtrodden, the poor, the disadvantaged.

Poetry is the Underground Railroad. Tracks can carry tremendous loads of feeling, from the past, through the present, and to the future. While our country bypasses trains for individual monster vehicles and fast airplanes, poetry is a kind of heavy-duty spiritual railroad system where we can save people, move them to safe havens and preserve humanity. Thank God.