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Poetry is an often overlooked, but essential part of life. In this interview, Elizabeth Alexander has several anecdotes that serve to prove this point. For example, when talking about the sound check before the inauguration, Alexander says that she recited a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks. While reciting this poem, many people stopped and listened, without even knowing what was being read or why it was being read. Alexander said that she didn’t demand their attention; the poem itself demanded their attention. After she read it, they all applauded. They recognized it as a performance and appreciated it for what it was and what it meant to them. The poem was a work of art with carefully chosen words that created a wonderful piece. The combination of words and word choice that happens in poetry creates a type of art different from anything else. The example she gives of this is that children are drawn to words and want to know how these words function. They want to expand upon their vocabulary and find new ways to communicate with people.
Poetry is a way of communication; it is simply a method of speaking to the souls of other people. We crave this kind of communication. The words shimmer and work together in a way that they could not do without poetry. We, as humans, crave this experience. Just as our bodies crave food, our souls crave the experience of music or poetry. We want something to speak to us in a way that normal words cannot.
Individual poems affect different people in different ways, but I feel that every person can be touched by at least one poem, if not more. People just need to be receptive to poetry and allow it to reach them. Poems will always be a source of comfort if people simply allow them to do so. Poems can also help people to realize that other people feel the same way about certain things, and they don’t stand alone. For example, I can truly relate to “Nuns Fret Not at Their Convent’s Narrow Room” by William Wordsworth. The idea of having small spaces and strict rules can be oddly comforting at times because I know what is expected and the structure puts me at ease. Many people enjoy having freedom and want to structure their own lives, but having an unchanging structure can be comforting at times. Reading this poem helped me to see that I wasn’t alone in this sentiment.
Poetry is an art form that communicates feeling in a beautiful way. It can be comforting to some, confusing to others, but it is an art form nonetheless. People crave this art. They may not be explicitly aware of this, but it is in human nature to crave this. Just as Alexander said, poetry is a form of music, and it’s something we, as humans, have always been doing. If we didn’t crave this experience, it would never have become an established art form. Poetry is still an active field, filled with wonderful poets like Elizabeth Alexander. If more people would take even just a few minutes to appreciate poetry for what it is, they may find more solitude than simply taking time away from people. It is not simply quiet that we seek; it is a sense of peace. Poetry can offer us this peace.