"Riddell’s great strength is his positive view of human existence."
- Capital Times

Ron Riddell

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The Language of Poetry PDF Print E-mail

The Language of Poetry

What is poetry? What is the language of poetry? What is its essence, its living heart or pulse and how can we locate or connect with it? These are often asked questions and over the millennia many answers have been suggested. It is fair to say that there is no one definitive answer not is it my intention herein to provide one. Rather, it is my hope that some of these ideas will provide further insight and inspiration through the study, craft and pursuit of poetry.

Poetry above all else, is a special language, a special way of saying, both physical and metaphysical in its register; its content, frame of reference and applications. It is a spiritual language that lives in the world much like the language of music and it best modes of expression possesses a lasting resonance, which outlives by far the moment of its creation or performance.



What makes such poetry, that is to say, what makes good poetry; and what makes great poetry? What makes it connect with the collective consciousness? What makes it memorable, what makes it last? Let us call it the quality of transcendence – when all the essential ingredients or principles are in harmony, in collective composure, equilibrium and what has been poetically expressed could not have been expressed better or more appropriately in any other way.

How hard it is to calculate the value of poetry and poetic arts. Impossible, perhaps. And the question arises: why should we try? Why should we not simple be grateful for the creative impulses and techniques that give rise to poetry and art? To open the cultural window, to expand its vista, requires a further step, a further vision, a further questioning.

What is the creative art; what is a work of poetic art, craft or sensibility and how does its existence make a difference to us, if at all, especially in a conflict zone, especially in a country at war, where poverty, disease, violence and injustice, go hand in hand, often on pandemic scales? What hope does poetry bring, for certainly it can bring some? What peace does poetry bring, for certainly it can bring some; what sense of sharing, respite, equality, for certainly it can bring some? Let’s consider this potential of poetry to act as a non-violent, non-threatening spiritual language, as a medium for peaceful dialogue and equal sharing. Let’s consider for a moment what a blessing and privilege it is to be able to do such spiritual work; to share creative gifts freely with others. Let’s consider poetry as not just a literary genre or art form but as something much larger, a healing, empowering medium with a much greater facility than that which it displays in the purely literary arena.

What greater privilege than to celebrate through poetry, to participate in its redemptive, regenerative power; in the healing authority of that soul communion; in the humble strength it fosters, out of reverence of the human condition; out of wonder; out of caring and compassion; out of conscience, out of consciousness; out of acknowledgement, out of forgiveness; out of the need to share, to foster community, to re-establish, revive and reconfigure the world, inner and outer; to reshape and enter; to revivify the generative voices of earth and sea; to speak freely, openly; widely, musically, without fear or fetish but out of holistic healing, knowledge, will.


©Ron Riddell 2010