“We all become poems”~ Joy Harjo: author, poet, musician, playwright.
Stories have been told since time immemorial. First as word-of-mouth. Rituals and traditions and the history of the clan.
Later with minstrels, choirs, tribal ceremonies and chants.
Even later on with written words. Poems and hymns. Songs to battle ~ lamentations of battles lost or hallelujahs of battles won. Kings and christenings, popes and pilgrimages, emperors and explorations. Oh-me-oh-my!
I remember learning about poems and poetry in elementary school. The singsony dah dada, du dah dadah, da dah dadah, du DA dah. Rule: Words had to rhyme at the end of each line. (Pssst….nothing rhymes with orange!) Ha!
Those early poems were a long way from free-verse….or the fun when I discovered limericks (usually the risque ones!). Odes and sonnets, ballads and epic tales (like the Illiad ~ some 20+books long) or Canterbury Tales: all different forms of poetry that have been around hundreds or thousands of years. Even the Japanese haiku showed up in the 1600s. ‘Painting’ a story in three lines and just 17 syllables is a bugger. Try it some time!
Really great memorable songs tell a story. They are a form of poetry as well. Listening to The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald (Gordon Lightfoot) still gives me goosebumps. Pick an age ~ pick a generation ~ and there are songs that are seminal emotional reminders of a space-in-time. And everyone has their space-in-time.
All types of poetry tell a story too. In its own way, the quote above calls into awareness the reminder you and I, and everyone we know, all have a story to tell. Everyone, and I mean everyone, IS a story as only they can tell.
How many times have you listened to a person ‘tell the story’ of someone they know? (Or even someone they don’t! Ha.) Be it a snippet, an anecdote, a piece of gossip, or an “epic tale” you, the listener, really don’t know the real story. You may or may not know the truth. You might have an inkling (based on your own experiences) of what the story-abouter was feeling. Yet their life, their experiences, their space-in-time is their’s. Not your’s or some story-teller’s.
Do something different this year. Ask ‘someone’ their story. Listen to what they have to share. See the world-as-they-experienced-it: through their eyes, their feelings, their social background (and yes, baggage too!) Prepare to be amazed at what you didn’t know. Prepare to be moved by what and how they experienced (and sometimes somehow survived) what they did. Prepare to be awed that they are standing (or sitting) in front of you.
Do something REALLY different this year: share your story. Your life, your experiences, your social background, your perspective, your space-in-time. No one to tell?? Then write it out.
You exist here and now. There has not been this you ever before….nor ever again. You are not an invisible ‘wrinkle in time.’ You are here. You are you. You are now.
You are a poem.