While it is true we write poetry for the sheer enjoyment of expression, and the delight of crafting words that resonate with our experience, it is also true that poetry has other reasons, other purposes.
A poet writes of the irony of life. The irony of loneliness in love; the irony of beauty in ugliness, the irony of tears that may be tears of joy or sadness. We need to be reminded of irony lest we take life too seriously and forget to smile and to laugh. Poetry helps us to remember to smile.
A poet points beyond the appearance of things, not to what is for who know what is? The love we think we have, may in hindsight simply be hormonal infatuation. The anger we hold within may mellow to something more compassionate with time and understanding. Our enemies may turn into friends and friends into enemies – who knows?
The poet points to what may be. We point to a shaft of light that may grace us with a different perspective. For we write, not so much for the reader as for ourselves the writer. We write to give ourselves perspective, to shine a shaft of light onto our pain, to brighten our happiness; to enhance the beauty we see and feel.
Then having written, we cast it out there into the public arena. We set it free, to point to what may be.
In freeing our words, we also allow ourselves to grow in courage. The courage to own our experience, the courage to move beyond our experience, the courage to say “I felt this but I am not this”. For our words may describe us, yet they cannot define us, for what points cannot be the thing it points to.
Poetry helps us smile and laugh, it points to what may be and gifts us with the grace of courage.