Luke Davis explains how he found poetry at 38 and tries to explain why he finds it so liberating.
In a world without song
The composer can teach us to dance
In a world without stories
The writer can set us free
In a world without beauty
The poet can show us the wonder
I have issues, you don’t get to 38 without a whole bunch of baggage most of which isn’t yours but you’re carrying it anyway. So after an eventful 2013 I was stuck looking for a way to ditch a whole pile of this baggage. I’m at that period of my life where peer pressure is no longer something I have to worry about and I no longer stress about what people think of me, well except for those I respect anyway. I define myself now, after 38 years I have finally realised I define my own self-worth. Yes it has been a long hard slog but I know I am on the right track now. So how does this lead me to poetry?
As a man emotional release isn’t something I usually think about, I have my internal man cave, I bundle up my emotions in a box and shove it at the back of the man cave. Problem solved, suppression is a wonderful thing isn’t it? The trouble was all this is that emotion becomes baggage and I was carrying way too much. My man cave didn’t have room for me anymore. So after venturing into writing as a way of letting some of this out I stumbled onto poetry. Do you know what? I love it! I don’t know whether I am any good or whether I am terrible but frankly I don’t care. I don’t write it for my near non-existing audience, it’s all about me; yes I’m selfish that way.
When I decide to sit down and write a piece I have a look back at what’s happened to me over the last few days, what’s been bothering me, making me happy, did I see something on the internet or have a conversation that resonated with me. I take what I found, work out what I’m feeling and literally hurl it at the page with every ounce of emotion and visualisation I can muster. Sometimes I have very elaborate stories I am trying to explain and the beauty of poetry is you have to condense that. If a piece can’t make me cry I don’t publish it, and every piece I have put on the All Poetry website makes me cry. Sometimes with happiness, joy, sadness, power or longing but every single piece will bring a tear to my eye. It’s very literally a piece of myself I have made into words.
So if any of you out there are struggling with an overflowing man cave (I’m not sure what the female equivalent is) try your hand at poetry. You will be surprised at the release and catharsis you get from just writing down 30 lines of poetry. If no one reads it, cares about it, comments or even ridicules you for it, well then so what. Write poetry for yourself, the opinion of others is irrelevant.
So I will leave you with my first ever poem. I wrote this about my writing, I found when I wrote there was very definitely pieces of myself in my writing, things I couldn’t hide, revelations about my very core identity, things so personal I couldn’t believe I had written them down. Nevertheless they were there, my signature was my soul and it lay exposed in my own writing. For some reason the saying “A picture is worth a 1000 words” entered my head and I wondered how many pictures is a man worth. Thus this poem was born.
A Man Is Worth a 1000 Pictures.
A million words swirl in a man’s head
A thousand pictures ready to be painted
Ethereal they swirl, almost untouchable,
And yet each a double edged sword.
They can be crafted and shaped
Guided on to a canvas or paper
Messages for those who can see
Or art for those who can not.
Will a man paint a remembered crimson sunrise
And seize the wonder he experienced
Displaying for all who wander by
“This amazed me, captivated me and held me breathless.”
Or will he paint a solitary sailor on dark stormy oceans
Adrift and alone,
Fist held to the sky yelling “Is this all you’ve got.”
Does he paint a portrait of frail greying man
A man who has seen so much,
With such sadness and wisdom in his eyes
That say to the viewer “I learnt almost as many lessons as I made mistakes.”
Each and every word tumbling
Can cut into his soul
But they are double edged
They also cut into canvas
Every scratch left on canvas is now filled with a piece,
A piece of the man who was once cut by these words.
His every creation he cannot help but paint
His very existence displayed for the world to see.
He can paint what is not
Or things which have never existed
Except that in every painting
There is always himself lying naked and exposed.
His paintings are messages to himself
Regardless of whom he gives them to.
“See, here you be, this is who you are.”
“Be comforted that you know yourself just that little better.”
And when a thousand pictures have been painted
If this man had opened his heart and mind
He can join those pictures into a mosaic and say
“A thousand pictures paint me.”
photo: vhhammer / flickr