Poetry Wednesday: Poetry is a Sickness

It’s still National Poetry Month, ladies and gentlemen!

So give yourself a gift and go to a public place that makes you feel comfortable—a coffee shop, the library, a park, the bench in front of your favorite painting at the museum, the cheap seats at the ballpark, the pew half-hidden behind the organ at church—and take something to write with, or on, or into.

Think about someone who has greatly wronged you in some way that might be forgiven, or not, but will never be forgotten. Or someone whom you hate or who hates you, for good reason, or stupid reasons, or no reason at all.  Someone you know well, or don’t know well, or whom you have never met at all. Doesn’t matter.

Write a poem to that person.  Sharpen your rhymes like knives, scorn with haiku, let the limericks fall like acid rain.  Burn holes in the paper with the strength of your righteous or self-righteous or indefensible anger.  Grin as you go, or let the tears fall wherever the hell they want.

Keep your words, or don’t.  Share them, or don’t. Send them to the object of your rage, or don’t. Doesn’t matter.

Because you’ve said them—and they’re all there on the page instead of impacting your wound.

That matters.

Think about it.  You have all month.

And while you’re thinking it over, read the rest of  this poem, which I don’t have permission to share in its entirety, but which I want to send to every poet I know, and also everyone who has read a poem and wondered what the poet was thinking:

 . . . Maybe the best poem is always the one you shouldn’t have written

The ghazal that bled your index finger
Or caused your sister to reject your calls for a year
The sonnet that made the woman you loved fear
That slam poem you’re still paying forH1N1_virus_particles
The triolet that smiled to violate you
through both ears

But Poet, Sucker, Fool
It’s your job
to find meaning in all this because
you are delusional enough to believe
that, yes, poetry is a sickness,
but somehow if you can just scrape together enough beauty and truth . . . 

—From “Poetry is a Sickness,” Whorled, Ed Bok Lee (© 2011)

Because if writing poetry can sometimes be a sickness, I imagine that  it can also be the moment just before the fever breaks and healing begins.


5 thoughts on “Poetry Wednesday: Poetry is a Sickness

  1. Well, Sarah, here it is–my poem. I didn’t write it exactly to a person who wronged me but several people and several situations…and I think it’s a good song for my hero buddy Jay Galloway to sing with his band…(since he and the real life Jay Galloway say this all the time)

    Life on the edge
    People come and go
    Two-legged rats
    Can’t tell them where to go
    They aren’t your friends
    They try to be nice
    You want to throw them away
    Like last night’s Chinese fried rice
    They’re all part of the conspiracy
    They’re out to get you and give you the blues
    They’re all part of the conspiracy
    They want you to lose
    Life on the edge
    What a mess it is
    Out of control
    So tired of this!
    It’s all part of the conspiracy
    They’re out to get you and give you the blues
    It’s all part of the conspiracy
    They want you to lose!

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