Love Letter to: Poetry

Love letter to… Poetry. Illustration by: Matt Fabrizio

I love art. I love to consume it and I love to create it. Whether it’s photography, music, cinema, stage, or any of the many other forms of art, I believe that it is wonderful. 

Though I love art as a whole, I had an epiphany earlier today that made me understand why I like poetry as much as I do, and more than other forms of art.

For me, other forms of art feel limiting. It feels as though I am merely the DJ, taking what already exists, and putting it together to create and display something with meaning. Don’t get me wrong, as the host of a radio show, I understand that there is an art to doing that. With poetry, however, I feel that I am able to go further.

I play guitar. When I do, I tend to learn and play covers, rather than writing my own songs. I often sit down to create something original and come out with nothing after extended periods of time. It feels as though there is something blocking me from creating my own music. The covers are only taking what exists and giving a personal spin to it.

The visual arts are much the same. Much of what I create visually is done online, taking existing things, and creatively transforming them into something new, such as making fake posters. 

Photography is the closest exception to this rule. I feel that I am able to express myself through photography, but often, the art is already there, and merely needs capturing. Sure, you can set up your own subject and scene, but more often than not, my photography captures what already exists. 

Poetry, however, is something entirely different for me. When I write poetry, it feels truly original, rather than a creative transformation of something that already exists. It is a medium through which anything can be expressed with the right combination of words, no matter how minor the concept. It is not limited to what actually exists, nor what others have thought in the past. Its only limitations are your own thoughts, and your ability to express it on a page.

Expressing thoughts, concepts and emotion in a poetic manner can be difficult, but that is a part of the process. To me, few things are more satisfying than finding the perfect string of words to describe what you’re trying to express. Words that are verbose enough to be interesting, not too verbose that it becomes excessive, or rhythmic enough to sound poetic, not so much that it feels forced. Writing poetry often can become a balancing act, looking for just enough, but not too much. It becomes just constrictive enough that it feels like a puzzle, but not so constrictive that it becomes frustrating.

That’s what separates it from songwriting for me. People say songs are just poetry put to music. It’s a much more delicate balancing act, because not all poems work with music, and not all songs would work without the music. Finding the words to put to music is tough enough, before taking into account actually writing the music, too. 

Poetry hits this perfect balance for me. It allows almost unlimited expression and originality, while still remaining challenging enough to create for it to be interesting. Yet, it is not so difficult to the point where it becomes frustrating. It’s the main form of art where I can go further, and be as expressive and original as I want. With everything else, I’m fine playing the DJ.