What is poetry? For one thing, of course, a part of literature, then again, a certain quality. There are poetic moments, poetic films, poetic situations, poetic images and undoubtedly poetic texts. What all these have in common is that they express or radiate something that goes beyond word meanings and beyond the tangible.
We are surrounded by words all day long.
We live words, we cannot not communicate and we spend most of our professional time communicating in writing. In this age of ubiquitous smartphones, this has even reached our personal lives. No more hourlong phonecalls, instead we text every day. I communicate with my adult children more in writing than verbally since they moved out. It just happens, it’s not a conscious decision.
But where is the poetry in that?
In my work as a coach, I also communicate verbally and in writing. Even for someone like me, who lives very much in words, the unspeakable is important. So, for me to do my job really well, a personal encounter is indispensable. I have to be able to perceive the other person with all my senses. My empathic abilities live from the personal encounter with all its diverse information: Facial expressions, gestures, looks, sighs and and and. They all speak volumes. As a coach, I can and must put most of this into words, because it is an essential part of the process to become aware of what is unconscious.
Some things, however, cannot be put into words.*
The poetry of a moment often lies precisely in a certain discrepancy between the different levels of communication.
Glances that make words seem completely different…
Music fragments that complement parts of the conversation…
Lush flowers in the gutter…
An unexpected colourfulness, glowing…
A lighting mood that changes an entire situation…
Perhaps you can think of other moments, other examples. If you have the feeling that I am expressing myself unusually imprecise today, blame it on the subject.
I do believe that we need poetry!
It is as vital for us humans as some micronutrients: we can manage without it for quite a while, but at some point we need it again to be able to bear the bleakness of our everyday lives and the wickedness of the world.
Yes, by that I mean everyone, even my favourite most rational high-flyers. Just because they may not have words for something doesn’t mean they can do without it. Just because it seems fleeting, elusive, doesn’t make it unimportant. (Oh, there is a lot to say about this…)
Yes, poetry challenges us. Sometimes poetry will provoke us, at other times it is so subtle that it takes a most sensitive perception to notice it at all. To be honest: either way is fine with me.
The main thing is more of it!
Heartfelt, wherever you are at this very moment,
*Maybe sometimes those unspeakable things can be put into sound, movement or colour… what do you think? Will you let me know below?
P.S.: Do you remember that moment: “I – will have poetry in my life. And adventure. And love. Love above all.”
― Marc Norman, Shakespeare in Love: A Screenplay