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  • Writer's pictureSarah Brahma

Truly, what is poetry?

Sarah describes her journey with poetry and explains why it is a tool of self-expression and understanding.

Poetry in the ancient world has been used as an instrument to express joy or grief and its use in the contemporary world is no exception. As a poet myself, I have often encountered the perplexing question of, what is poetry? Like other great artists such as Ezra Pound, I couldn’t come up with a satisfactory definition of poetry. Perhaps, it is the most efficient instrument of both discovery and expression that exists.

What got me started in writing was the urge to express myself. When my heavy words trickled down my pen onto the paper, it took the form of poetry. Each poem that I wrote rewarded me with more clarity about myself. Soon, I couldn’t see the trees as simply wood, and the clouds as condensed air. Needless to say, I enjoyed the poetic frame of mind. It let my imagination achieve everything but at the same time, kept reality close. I further realized that poetry has the capability to convey a message efficiently and in a compacted form that can be easily remembered. This inspired me to write on social and political issues and let people see things in an unfamiliar light. It gives the audience an emotional connection with the topic itself and appeals to the people’s subconscious minds. A few classic examples of such poetry would be “The Applicant” and “Warning” by Sylvia Plath, and “Evening” by Dorianne Laux.

A point of commonality among all forms of poetry is they were meant for enjoyment. This is also one good reason why people should write and read poetry as well. Enjoyment and entertainment are distinct affairs, and those conditioned to the latter can never experience the former. Poetry is also timeless, we have observed how literature pieces dating decades back still resonate with us. An example would be, “Stopping by the Woods” by Robert Frost. Poetry has helped people to find freedom while being trapped, allowing us to be unconventional and elevate our mundane life. It has also helped many to hear their authentic voice and be at peace with themselves.

As I see it, poetry has allowed me to flee from emotions that would otherwise torment me. It has opened up strange windows where I could fashion the future, however inaccessible it might be. It has guided me to the path of self-realization. In conclusion, poetry has inspired me to be wise and observant of my surroundings.

If you are yet to join the adventure of writing poetry, it might seem like a daunting experience. An exercise that has worked for me is to simply sit down with a pen and paper, and a time limit of 10 minutes to jot down ideas. Then, poetry will start to flow and you will get better with practice. I hope everyone can fulfill their craving for creativity and expression through poetry!


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