If words are the enemy of poetry

for Noel & Obinna

my media betrays me
& how will I translate
that twist
under the solar plexus
that says speak this?

Shall I fill this page
with fingerprints of answers
trapped in these hands
you can’t see–
evidence I can’t voice,
or should I shout my love with eyes
& silence, and promise only things
I can shape with breath
kissing a window pane?

is clay the enemy
to hands that shape it,
& does stone resist the chisel?

No–there the sculptor exposes
what waits to be uncovered
& we, I, you
any of us, words are our stones
waiting to be skipped or built
& sometimes thrown

my medium is not
the enemy, language the loom
I shuttle patterns on
warp and weft, with known colors
& undiscovered outcomes

About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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48 Responses to If words are the enemy of poetry

  1. annotating60 says:

    Susan this was excellent. Kudos!!!!>KB

  2. davidtrudel says:

    Brilliantly provocative!

  3. Such a wonderful write Susan–just excellently done!

  4. Brilliant, Susan, Brilliant. Amazing also the way you touch on the different mediums for artistic creativity and expression and their relationship to the artist who “breathes” life into them. I believe Mr Edson’s strong claim which prompted your poem is one of the over-made point – a point which really would have been better made if expressed as “wrong words are the enemies of poetry”. Even here, one would need to say this with some caution as some deliberate wrong words could be used to achieve specific effects, the way Mr Bean used his deliberate clumsiness to thrill audiences at the start of the London Olympic Games this summer!

  5. First, thanks for the inspiration and the praise for this, which just jumped out of my head almost immediately after reading the quote. Second, I have never told anyone how much LOVE I have for Mr. Bean (slapstick reduces me to a crumpled pile of giggles). So–between referencing my two greatest loves (poetry and stumbling comedy) I am afraid I might miss your greater message, which is sandwiched in the middle–the real meat, as it were. There, I agree 100%, but had to write this visceral response anyway ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. archcardinal says:

    Words cannot be divorced from poetry. No matter how opaque or tansparent. Its appeal, to me, is a personal journey of one’s inner affections and holds true, no matter how misunderstood.

    Words are the only tool available to poetry, meaning however, must share a universality that transcends beyond those words. Of course if words were divorced from poetry, we either bottle up or simply hum!

    So poetry, again, for me, is for those initiated into reading imagery from words and not just words itself. The uninitiated can read prose!

    • Oh, well said. So much easier to say here than on Twitter, for all of us. We cannot have words apart from poetry any more than we could have sculpture without stones (as above)–except in our case, words are both tools and media, and we NEED them. They can never be the enemy. Without words, I would be humming along with you, mouth sewn shut. I am not certain I can ever describes what makes one assortment of words spoken through a poet poetry, while another jumble of words mumbled by someone else is doggerel, except for me poetry resonates with a universal experience that can only be shared if it is spoken (Lord, I sound pretentious, so will stop here). Thanks so much for your insight!

  7. tashtoo says:

    Fantastic! Love the stones…skipped or thrown…very fine write!

  8. Words indeed are our most powerful tool or, weapon. Love the link with creating in sculpture, clay, stones… lovely poem.

  9. ruleofstupid says:

    You seem to have a natural
    propensity. I’m constantly surprised at how you produce such a lot of work yet maintain real quality. This is another example, some wonderful images, from the ‘twist’ to the skipping stones. #34 #10 #17b

    • Mike, thanks! I am surrounded (virtually–
      too bad not away from the PC) by wildly creative people who are constant founts of creativity and inspiration (yourself included in that bunch).

  10. Nicholas Gagnier says:

    Beautiful work, Susan.
    Loved this part :

    “is clay the enemy
    to hands that shape it,
    & does stone resist the chisel?”

    I have nominated you for Blog of the Year:


  11. Mary says:

    Enjoyed this so very much!

  12. brian miller says:

    nice….it is like any other art, we dont get it right away, there is a birthing that happens…a hewning away of the excess to find the art within the words for sure…the medium is not the enemy, it is the partner in magic…

    • Brian, thank you! Yes, I was writing it before it really spoke to me–I seemed to have a disconnect between what I was forced to dissect in school and what I was spinning at home ๐Ÿ˜‰

  13. Miriam E. says:

    excellent, Susan! loved the first stanza, it sucked me right in. as always, your words are marvelous.

  14. Laurie Kolp says:

    Nice… I especially like the final stanza, Susan.

  15. This is lovely Susan specially these lines:

    any of us, words are our stones
    waiting to be skipped or built
    & sometimes thrown

  16. ayala says:

    An awesome write!

  17. kelly says:

    Yes, stones indeed… Loved every bit of this!

  18. nelle says:

    …& sometimes thrown. Hmmmm!

  19. Tony says:

    I don’t think of words so much as stones! For me they are more like mosaic tiles just waiting to be skillfully and artfully arranged into new patterns to reveal new meanings and images, and to elicit new thoughts in the mind of the reader. You do that so often and so well – and this poem is another example of that.

  20. Sabio Lantz says:

    Indeed, words are not often our friends but an enemy we must befriend to give wings to thoughts and feelings. (If I got you right)

  21. Ooooh ‘kissing a window pane’ ~ wonderful.
    I thought I was on the wrong blog at first ~ then realised this must be your Merry Christmas blog page ~ Merry Christmas to you too, Susan:)

  22. poemsofhateandhope says:

    for me this conjured up the internal wrangling that an be writing poetry….the conflicts it can create, and the pleasure when we get it right (in our own eyes)….also questions who we write for…do we write to please ourselves or others….at least these discussions are what this great poem made me think about!

  23. Lindy Lee says:

    “Warp and weft” and “undiscovered outcomes” grab a hold & don’t let go.
    Good words & tasty food for thought. Although my comments are few, I do read
    and enjoy your writing…

  24. wonderfulโ€ฆ your way of opening us to you, your intent, your message. thank you.

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