Back in an earlier column I discussed what it meant to take a journey as a spiritual poet.
Often in writing it can be difficult to separate the spiritual from the religious and from evangelism. But with evangelism defined more broadly we can give our writing a chance to take strong positions and use our verse to spread a more public view. Thus, we connect with a larger audience and tap into a grander conscience.
I realize that for most of us writing on this scale could be unsettling, more risk that we want to take. But my purpose here is to show how vast poetry can be. It is your own choice to decide how large you want your writing to encompass. Not everyone can be a Walt Whitman, or a Richard Blanco. But there is plenty of room for big ideas as well as small ones. The essential change in our writing takes place when we write in the third person POV, the “we” replaces the “I.” And unlike Blanco, we may not be called on to write a poem which is the ultimate public poem that was an evangelistic call to Americans. Look closely at this line, “All of us as vital as the one light we move through…”, from his Inauguration (for Barack Obama) poem, One Today. We hope to have words in our toolbox that enables us to write grandly of our lives, our country, and even our faith.
There are no more powerful metaphors for the strength of our emotions than those we find in nature. If we want our poetry to expand the public experience and draw society to us, then using our love of nature is a natural choice. The mighty Sequoia does not just shade the tiny mouse, it represents the strength and endurance of all of us. For those who believe in a higher power, the evidence of sunsets, shooting stars, trees blooming, baby animals, and the mysterious oceans, the ability to convey this as integral to the human experience is a type of evangelism. People and poetry, the perfect combination which gives us such a broad purpose. We have many chances to spread our verse.
Sara M. Robinson, founder of the Lonesome Mountain Pro(s)e Writers’ Workshop, and former Instructor of a course on Contemporary American Poets at UVA-OLLI, is poetry columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and poetry editor for Virginia Literary Journal. In addition to publication in various anthologies, including We Grew Wings and Flew (2014), Scratching Against the Fabric (2015), and Virginia Writer’s Club Centennial Anthology (2017); journals: Loch Raven Review, The Virginia Literary Journal, vox poetica, Jimson Weed, Whisky Advocate, and Poetica, she is poet and author of Love Always, Hobby and Jessie (2009), Two Little Girls in a Wading Pool (2012), A Cruise in Rare Waters (2013), and Stones for Words (2014). Her latest poetry book, Sometimes the Little Town, released in February 2016, was a finalist for the Poetry Society of Virginia’s 2017 Book Award.