A poem must be more than simply words on a page; a parking ticket or the label off a soup tin would qualify, if that were the case.
That’s not to discount legalese or test-kitchen directions, for those printed words are wholly purposeful and necessary. But, like detailed instructions for assembling a bicycle or preparing a box of macaroni and cheese, the words lack feeling and flexibility.
Poetry, whether freeform or doled out in strict sonnet, sentient stanza, or curious couplet, is not written in observance of language as much as in defiance of it. A poet sets out to produce something uncommon using common words made up of the same 26 letters everybody else uses. In doing so, life is filled with words that move and words that matter.
Poetry is the currency of emotion in a fickle economy that encourages consumption and produces mass waste. Poetry is efficient, not affluent, and does not require a full page (or span thereof) to fill a heart with joy or a mind with questions.
Poetry takes the effort to do what mere sentences can’t, and it does so freely and for the benefit of everybody and, perhaps, nobody in particular.
Poetry is about inclusion, but it is certainly not the democratization of language, but rather a liberation of ideas from which mortals can step forward with greater humility, increased purpose, and freedom from the mundane or impervious thought which tends to label, discriminate, and stifle.
It does so without complexity and without contradiction.
A poem means what you want it to mean, yet never is it simply words on a page.
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APRIL is POETRY MONTH, a reason and season to celebrate the language we all may take for granted. Whether you read it or write it, take extra time this month to soak up some poetry. Dig out a familiar poetry volume or, better yet, buy a new book. Find some new favourites.
Check back often. Each day this month there will be new poetry right here.