I am not arguing that poetry and all the arts should be
didactic or political tracts. Far from
No theory will stand up to a chicken's gutsbeing cleaned out, a hand rammed up
the green bile and the bloody liver;
no theory that does not grow sick
Poetry is the search for truth. It marries outer to inner. It probes reality with words. It suggests, states, intimates, all the while inviting the reader to enter into a raid on what was previously unspeakable. This exploration is composed of ideas, images, and words arranged in ways that engender powerful emotions and thoughts. Like life, a poem swims in mystery. Sometimes it carries a tune that moves the words, and the reader is moved in return. Sometimes it is out of tune to jar the reader out of a life of complacency with no questions asked, no disruptions. True poetry startles. It inspires. It enlivens.
It is a distillation
of the human spirit, as essential as bread.
It is composed of a few simple ingredients, as is bread. They are: the real, actually existing, outside
world, and us; the outside world that we are in and that is in us, and our
emotional thoughts about our condition.
Flour, water, and yeast. The
bread rises, the poem forms. They are good or bad, depending on taste. They nourish or don't. But we cannot live without them. Thomas McGrath writes:
On the Christmaswhite plains of the floured and floweringkitchen table
The holy loaves of bread are slowly being born:
Rising like low hills in the steepled pastures of light-
Lifting the prairie farmhouse afternoon on their arching
While academic hucksters churn out reams of solipsistic verse
of hallucination and artifice, our true poets passionately address issues that
count and should be of concern to the average person: questions of value and
ultimate concern, of life and death, of meaning or meaninglessness, of truth
In a screen and selfie culture, these matters are