LeAnne Martin
Christians in the Arts

Sunday, January 11, 2009

“Why I Do What I Do”: Poetry

If you’re a regular reader, you know that the first question I ask each person I feature invariably goes something like this: “Why do you do what you do?” I want to know what draws artists to their art forms. I want to know and understand what motivates and inspires them to create. I have received some fascinating responses so I’ve decided to collect the answers by art form and post them occasionally. First up: the poets.

LeAnne: Why do you write poetry?

Jean Janzen: Having grown up with hymns and the King James Version of the Bible, I was exposed to the power of language. Who can explain why a child responds with her own words? I wrote poems occasionally and studied English literature in college. My first attempt to study the craft came after my children were in school, when I gave myself permission to continue my education at graduate level. I had grown interested in telling my father's history in an artistic way, his journey as an orphaned teen from Ukraine to Canada. That moved into a poetic investigation of all of life. I write because I sometimes am able to make connections in unexpected ways, and I find places in my soul that continue to long for discovery of meaning and mystery.

Jill Peláez Baumgaertner: I write in order to figure out how to say the unsayable, to put into language that which goes beyond language, to make myself pay attention.

Brad Davis: I am drawn to images and ideas. By image (plain, textured, or figured) I mean a sensory impression, and by idea I mean anything from a concept to an emotion to a motivation. In poetry I find a concentration of both image and idea that is usually compressed into a brief language event. And yes, I am drawn to brevity, perhaps because I am drawn to contemplation, the poem functioning nicely as a springboard to, as Merton spoke of it, thinking into and with the heart of God. I also love the music of language, especially of plain speech. Though I am not as much a sensualist (one who, apart from virtually anything else, loves language for how it plays on the tongue and in the ear) as many of my poet-friends, if a poem is aurally clunky (without meaning to be), it cannot be an excellent example of the art. I am drawn to poetry for the experience of how it makes my brain work: in an encounter with a well-written poem, whether on paper or articulated at a reading, I see, hear, feel things vividly in my inner self that enlarge my experience of the beautiful, broken world in which you and I serve as stewards.

Coming soon: new features!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love Ms. Janzen's comment about "the poetic investigation of all of life." What a beautiful way to phrase that.

Perhaps all artists, regardless of their medium can be said to be engaged in the "artistic" investigation of all of life.


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