Poetry Corner

by Arthur Mampel

I once read that the mind is like an endless video-tape—recording every sensation, thought, feeling, memory, action, fear, taste, et al in the course of the human experience. And, if that is so, then the substance of who we are is surely influenced by the sum of those experiences. And if we believe this, it follows that when we nourish our minds with qualities that deepen our character and enrich our souls we have chosen a wise direction.

When people tell me that poetry makes no sense to them—that it is abstract and out of touch, and contributes nothing to the everyday grind of human business, I wonder if they have spent much time reading poetry. When reading poetry becomes a habit, I tell them that it informs the reader of its meaning. Poetry, as T.S. Eliot put it, “purifies the dialect of the tribe.” It causes you to appreciate wonderful word combinations that can communicate life to you and through you.

I insist that poetry has an independent existence, an influence that goes beyond the mere interpretation of its content. If you read it, and read it, and read it many times, it begins to change the way you speak. It causes everything you touch, see or hear to become experienced in a radically clear and living way. It brings a new, living, breathing transformation to everything that comes into your day and night. The ordinary will become extraordinary. The common experience will become unique. This is the mysterious power of poetry. It turns the mundane into an uncommon experience.

Arthur Mampel in Seattle and is Pietisten's poet laureate.

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