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How To Get More Poetry Into Your Life

As I’ve gotten older, a sad, almost imperceptible thing began to happen. I began to lose touch with the poetry in my life. Poetry has a way of connecting you to deep truth. Like prayer, it can provide the wellspring of spiritual connection that you need to stay in alignment with your purpose and …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

As I’ve gotten older, a sad, almost imperceptible thing began to happen. I began to lose touch with the poetry in my life. Poetry has a way of connecting you to deep truth. Like prayer, it can provide the wellspring of spiritual connection that you need to stay in alignment with your purpose and calling.

It’s not that I stopped reading poetry – Scripture is often poetry and it is a touchstone for me. I love Scripture. It has more to do with the practical focus of my life.

Joseph Campbell said that “poets are simply those who have made a profession and a lifestyle of being in touch with their bliss. Most people are concerned with other things.”

That’s me – I have been “concerned with other things.” We have a special needs daughter. I have others in my life whose problems demand my attention. Helping them is important and it elbows aside a part of me that just needs more space. Can you relate to this?

The part of me that weeps

A while back, I decided that it’s time to rediscover the poetry in my life. Poetry often has the job of taking you to the unexamined edges of your life. It can transport you past your comfort zones and into the arena of dreams and wild possibilities.

Like a lot of guys my age, I’ve been fighting battles every day. Often people’s lives may hang in the balance. If I don’t show up as a problem solver, people will suffer.

Most people love my soft side – the part of me that weeps for the world’s pain and sometimes for their pain specifically. But there is this strategic, practical side of me that doesn’t just dream of making the world a better place, it wades into the mess of it and tries to stop traffic to bring order.

It was easier when I was young and had the luxury of dreams that weren’t tethered to responsibility. Life has become so much more complicated, and at times, confusing.

Taking action

How do you reconcile this poetic impulse where “deep calls to deep” with real world responsibilities that slap you in the face? I decided a few months back that it was time to take action.

So I created a poetry club that meets 5 pm on the Gainesville square. We each come armed with a couple of poems and we read them and discuss them. 

We love David Whyte and Mary Karr. Rick comes from a military background and loves Kipling’s poem IF that calls men to stand for values.

This past week I read a poem by Kevin Kling called “Tickled Pink.” I like the ideas in it. If you’re missing the poetry in your life, I invite you to read it and ask yourself if maybe it isn’t time to make room for more poetry in your life too.

That’s the first step – to make room for it. And then a next step from there is to find a few people who are willing to make room for it too. Together you can perhaps create a space where you can begin to ask the questions that lead you to more dangerous places and possibilities.

Poetry will do that.

Tickled Pink

At times in our pink innocence, we lie fallow, 

Composting, waiting to grow. 

And other times we rush headlong like so many of our ancestors. 

But rush headlong or lie fallow, it doesn’t matter.

  

One day you’ll round a corner; your path is shifted. 

In a blink, something is missing. It’s stolen, misplaced; it’s gone. 

Your heart, a memory, a limb, a promise, a person. 

Your innocence is gone, and now your journey has changed. 

Your path, as though channeled through a spectrum, 

Is refracted and has left you pointed in a new direction. 

Some won’t approve. Some will want the old you. 

And some will cry that you’ve left it all. 

But what has happened, has happened, and cannot be undone.

 

We pay for our laughter. We pay to weep. Knowledge is not cheap. 

To survive we must return to our senses, touch, taste, smell, sight, sound. 

We must let our spirit guide us, our spirit that lives in breath. 

With each breath we inhale, we exhale. We inspire, we expire. 

Every breath has a possibility of a laugh, a cry, a story, a song. 

Every conversation is an exchange of spirit, 

The words flowing bitter or sweet over the tongue. 

Every scar is a monument to a battle survived. 

 

Now when you’re born into loss, you grow from it. 

But when you experience loss later in life, you grow toward it. 

A slow move to an embrace, an embrace that leaves you 

Holding tight the beauty wrapped in the grotesque, 

An embrace that becomes a dance, a new dance, 

A dance of pink.

Comments (2)

  • Thanks. I think I found a new favorite poem. Ironically it has replaced “IF” I used to write poetry when I was young. Perhaps I’ll give it a shot once again.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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