It seems futile to write ‘nice’ poetry as the war in Gaza rages on. There are many other atrocities happening too. I have been moved by world events since childhood, so it is unlikely to change any time soon. This is nothing to complain about; emotions inspire action and change, whereas apathy is one of the roots of cruelty.
Recently I have been pondering the role of literature and how words are central to presenting a picture of what people think, say, and do in society. What is written or read can inform, entertain, and educate. Stories and poems depict actions in life using characters; usually it is people who deliver messages. Most writers on the planet (except maybe a tiny minority who grew up in hermit-like situations) have been exposed to many people and events, so by default, the attitudes and values of our social world are always present in the writing. This is a good thing, because when real life events are shared as fiction they act as a mirror, allowing us to look at ourselves and make amends as needed.
In a synopsis of “A World of Art,” the by Henry M. Sayre, who is Professor Emeritus of Art History at Oregon University in the US, Jeffrey Joyner mentions that in his book Sayre defines the four roles traditionally assigned to artists:
• to produce a record of their immediate environment
• to express emotions in a way that is tangible.
• to uncover truths that were hidden or universal.
• to offer a world view to people from a different perspective.
Although Sayre wrote primarily about visual art, the same four pillars could apply to writing. In sociology, my research aim is to uncover truths and write about them in relation to public health and medicine. In poetry and prose, I am in awe of nature while simultaneously furious about social injustice. Poems are linked to my health just as much as sociology is, for self-expression is crucial to wellness, and I believe that to be true for everyone.
For writers, the truth does not always emerge in a way that might be called ‘beautiful’, however truth is essential for justice, and not just as it is shared from the perspective of journalists. If caring begins with sharing, creative writing is a great way to tell someone’s story or to highlight an issue.
This morning I wrote a poem in response to a lovely memory of my grandparents (read / listen on the blog at www.artyshe.com), however my soul calls me to do what I always do; balance the light with the dark, the political with the pretty. On it goes…
(c) Kathryn Crowley
The Pollen Pages is available here www.artyshe.com