Excerpt From New Notebook
“The Poet and the People” 5/13/17
“The poet cannot be afraid of the people” – Pablo Neruda, Memoirs pg. 81
What is the relation between the poet at the people? A poet a weaver of tales and truths, a stanza and soliloquy serenading individual, a wizard of words, an artist and a creator; they invoke the power of words (written and spoken) to express some principle or experience. They rely on the understood, yet mysterious, magic of rhythm and emotion to tell a story. Even now, my words happen to conjure flighty images within the imagination of my own mind. Why though? For whom do I craft these words in such a way? Is it solely for me? If that were honest, then I am truly a selfish individual to hold such statements in, refusing to share with others.
These ideas, these sentences full of power, suffering, passion, and intellect germinated from my mind and yet, as a poet, I feel compelled to share. With The People. The people, or those who aren’t necessarily able to weave a story in a similar manner (entertaining, informative, possessive, and emotional). Those individuals who march through life following only a few pursuits, spending a fleeting second within their own subconscious. They are everywhere, and there is no escape from the people. They are the collective. And they can be intimidating.
Both strangers and dear friends can be the people; one day their search for truth will bring them to the poet’s path. What happens then when these two fundamentally different groups intercept each other at the crossroads? Classifying myself as the poet, I will speak from my experiences (solely my own opinions). I was too, at an earlier point in my life, one of the people…before coming to know my own personal truth.
When assuming the role of a poet, as a poet should do at all times if considered as such-both by the world and self-one exists in a reality separate from the people. A poet creates a world: they form the foundation, decorate it with their favorite foliages, and even destroy some aspects of their previous world-the realm of the people. Once this world has been established and validated by the poet, they have two options: to grant entry to others, or keep their gates closed.
If one chooses the latter option then they have little fear for their world will not be tainted by outsiders; it will remain pure, completely untouched by the opinions, criticism, laughs, or cries from something other than the poet. There are those who relish in this isolation-there is nothing like having an escape from reality that is positive and progressive. However, they are also selfish and this directly conflicts with the nature of the poet.
“It is the business of the poet to communicate to others the pleasures and enthusiasm arising out of these images…within their own mind.” – Percy Blythe Shelley
The poet is tasked with communicating emotions to others- the “others” being The People. To live up to the title of poet, a being must be willing to extend entry to their world to the others. There are additional steps to take, but this is the initial one. A true poet (if there is such thing) will not only invite an individual, they will also impress their reality, their world, their universal truth, upon them. This is the duty of the poet.
Then, there can be no fear in the poet when it comes to engaging and interacting with the people, and yet, fear inherently exists within the poet (and within all of us). It’s buried in the depths of our being, pollinating thoughts, and manifesting when the words escape-whether liberation was granted from a ballpoint pen or a lubricated tongue. It is fear that will cause a poet to become selfish, and close their gates-preventing any entry into the eternal Eden within us.
There is an external factor that one must be cautious of when dealing with the people, because they are intimidating. Not as intimidating as the internal struggle of inspiration and suffering in relation to the creation of art, but a fear factor that stems from the “Unknown”. The “Unknown” is the entity that exists in our lives, and it will always exist as long as we do. It applies to people, that’s why people are so unpredictable; no matter how well we believe we know them, there is a percentage of uncertainty that rattles the spirit of the poet.
Imagine the child who is having a birthday party. They are excited to share this moment with others, but to do so they must send out invitations. Now, the invitations may be to their party, but the words originate from elsewhere-even though they say exactly what the host wants them to say. In contrast, the poet has no “real” control over their words (or ideas) that synaptically spark into their head.
First, they must make sure the invitation is correct. It has to list the truth surrounding the party; the poet must modify and complete their poems before sharing them. Then, the people to invite must be identified. Who will I give these invitations to? Who will read these lines? Who will listen to my cries, will anybody listen to my cries, is it even worth crying anymore if there is nobody to listen? These are the questions that will plague the mind of the poet (at least me) before they are introduced to their “party people”. Lastly, and possibly the most terrifying, the child must host the party. On the day of the performance, a poet will be asked to open their home to those who responded to the invitation. Bumblebee yellow balloons floating above freshly iced cupcakes, and there are snow-white streamers that catch the eyes of those who are not already mesmerized by the candle flames flickering on the cake. The world of the child will be filled with others; and together, just like the host and their guests, the poet and the people will have an experience. They will share sensations that spark individual thoughts within each of them.
The poet must not only be the commander of another’s experience, but also allow the people to dictate their diction. This dual duty is where fear strikes because of unpredictability. Some may not want an experience, they may want a different one, maybe they expected a majestic world and you offered them a frigid one where you shouldered your grief, or there is the possibility that they enjoy your world so much that they decide to stay for awhile. The best option, personally, is if the people try to make their own world after being invited to the poet’s world.
What is my greatest fear as a poet: the fear that my words will lack the impression of inspiration. But, to conquer that fear, I am dedicating my life to the crafting of a world, no, a universe where all receive an invitation, because I can no longer be afraid of my people.