What is poetry, and what is it for?
I'm two people when I answer this question, well, probably more.
When I write it's a gushing, it's something I have nowhere to share, but something I want to speak, I want someone out there to see, to hear, to understand. I have a need to be understood, but some thoughts, beliefs, whether flickering or deep seated aren't the things the people closest to me have time for. Or maybe that's harsh. Maybe there are things about what happens inside me that they don't need to know, that would be awkward, uncomfortable or just plain unintelligible, incomprehensible. But perhaps if I write it in a poem there will be an audience, even of one lonely stranger who just gets one line and even if I never know they get that line, the hope that they will is enough. And that's how it is for me to write.
But there is more to writing than that outlet. There is the play with the words, the joy of a rhythm, a sense of pride in a perfectly formed phrase. Never a perfectly formed poem; that's something I've never finished. Even the one or two amongst dozens that I look at and think that's OK, I can be pleased with that, everytime I brush them down, pick them up off the metaphorical shelf, I find something discordant, something I really yearn to put right. I can't always do it. I can just see that it's somehow a bit wrong and could be better. This can go on for years. And sometimes it's just because it's me that's changed in the meantime, my view of the world, my perspective on the incident which triggered the poem that's changed and makes the poem more wrong.
Then there's the me that's the reader of other people's work. That me is fairly uncritical. I love a nicely turned rhyme, rhythm, lines which lead to other lines, lines which bounce, lines which make me chuckle or wince or stare in respect. I like words read out loud and I like them on paper. I like to see through someone else's eyes, to be challenged by difference. I am in awe of free verse writers. So bold, so brave, so something I can't quite do, not with true authenticity and sincerity. I'm all a little bit forced. Trite, ordinary, indulgent. I envy those who can pull it off.
I love a good pastiche. Nicking other people's work and playing around with how it works, learning, always learning, always playing, finding a twist, my twist, my twisted belief system making words suit me.