Sunday, January 11, 2015

If a picture's worth a thousand words...

A picture is worth a thousand words, but words can be the essence of our lives, our experience, and our emotions. Words can change history, or record it; they can start wars, or end them. Recently, I heard Joseph Stroud read aloud some of his works. Mr. Stroud is a prolific American poet. His words linger in the air, settling on the listeners shoulders after the words have left his lips, or have leapt from the page. Poetry in our modern society seems an arcane~a mysterious genre that seems to have faded from the fast pace of our busy lives. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Poetry, like so much about our cyber lives, economizes words to their utmost efficacy. A few words, carefully woven, convey an entire scene with only a few characters. Consider Stroud’s Night in Day: “The night never wants to end, to give itself over 
to light. So it traps itself in things: obsidian, crows. 
 Even on summer solstice, the day of light's great 
triumph, where fields of sunflowers guzzle in the sun— 
we break open the watermelon and spit out 
black seeds, bits of night glistening on the grass.” Fifty five words create a myriad of images and emotions and evoke a dozen questions in the reader’s mind. Similarly, Emily Dickenson, used words efficiently to tell tales, and make a point. Faith offers a simple argument: “Faith is a fine invention 
When Gentlemen can see— 
But Microscopes are prudent
In an Emergency.” Songs offer the pop-culture version of poetry to the masses. With a background of drums, sythesized syncopation, guitar, or orchestral background, lyricists string words together to tell stories of love, of woe, of misunderstanding, or revolution. Instead of texting about fashion, or rumors, or traffic, perhaps we should encourage people to text poetry. Imagine what a beautiful world me might create. I smiled as I listened to the poet on the radio. Reading is a magnificent escape, but to hear the bard speak those precious few words--those metaphors and similes--to paint pictures transported me, momentarily. Like a time traveler, I sifted to the poet’s world, and was mesmerized by its magic.