Poetry—Discovering a New Language

A rose on an old book.

When I first discovered poetry, it was like learning a whole new language. I know it might sound strange for those who have always found it easy to understand poetry but, to be brutally honest, for me it looked like a mix of words that I simply couldn’t quite make sense of. I had just bumped into a totally different code of writing and reading that needed to be deciphered before I could understand the real message there. Even poetic prose had that effect on me sometimes.

It all started when I was around 13 or 14 when a friend of the family published a book of poems about her experiences dancing the tango. We got a copy of the book, and soon I got curious and started reading, only to find it wasn’t at all like reading a story or a novel. It felt a bit like I was trying to read in another language, and I couldn’t imagine anything while reading… Still, it felt like something quite mysterious was hiding behind all those short poems and unusual words. This was so, because while I didn’t know it back then, these poems were describing something that was beyond words. When, after re-reading over and over, I began getting small glimpses of the meaning of the poems, I suddenly got very interested in learning to tango, and I also started exchanging letters with the author to learn more about her. This was something I usually did with people I found interesting. From the first reply, I found that her letters, though short and simple like her poems, also needed some decoding (and lots of re-reading). She wrote in philosophical metaphors that I had no clue about back then, since I even lacked the references she was using (Ancient Greek myths, certain philosophies and concepts I had never heard about, and her own personal concepts on top of that…). It was all a big mystery. The name of this first person who introduced me to poetry, and inspired me to start writing poems, is María Bernad. For those who speak Spanish (and maybe even those who don’t), you might find the audiovisual version of her poem book interesting (we made this “movie” about it two years ago)

Even though poetry remained a difficult genre for me to read for the first two or three years, I always had a feeling it was worth the effort, I just had to take it easy and re-read… and little by little, they would start making sense. Perhaps it’s a bit like music: the more you listen to a song, the more sense it makes and the more you can tell if you like it or not, and why. Two or three years later, following the publishing of my first novel, I was invited to a local literature group where we shared our stories and poems and read them for the rest, and comment. The Authors’ Circle on this website reminds me a bit of those years and it’s fun to re-live it. Through those weekly meetings with other writers of all ages and backgrounds, I found out that it was easier for me to understand the poetic language when I got to know the authors, since poetry has this particular way of “writing itself” using the personal meanings that each author gives to each word.

As one of the poets in that circle used to say, “poetry is not about only representing beautiful things, but about representing all things in a beautiful way”. He used to say this whenever someone brought a poem that didn’t exactly talk about birds and butterflies… perhaps the topic was actually dark or heavy, yet it was portrayed in a way that showed its natural beauty.

Perhaps that’s what poetry is all about: finding and expressing the beauty. At least that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. It felt right when I started writing my poems that way. There are many forms of beauty, though, and probably there are a lot of poets out there who focus on other forms of art and poetry. I’ll mostly be focusing more on the “bright side” of poetry instead, because I think art, in general, should start reflecting the good in every single aspect of our world, for light can be found even in the darkest corners of reality.

Art is expression, but it can also be used as a tool to spread messages that will make this world a better place. That is why poetry—and not only written poetry but poetry in a broader sense in all forms of art or expression— is important.

As a simple example of poetry describing something that goes beyond words, I’ll share this poem…

Moments of Timeless Happiness (A Smile With No Macula)

I wish this day had infinite hours,
and this moment, no end.

Instants of infinite joy,
timeless sparks floating across the sky,
simply sharing and creating
what is today.

A day with no end.
A smile with no macula.
And the certainty,
that this will stay, forever,
in the continuum of timeless existence,
the Real Self of IT.

How can I find any words to describe it?

There’s only one way:
a big THANK YOU.

And then silence and the pure bliss of BEING.

Nieve Andrea, 10 October 2012

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