“When I began to listen to poetry, it’s when I began to listen to the stones, and I began to listen to what the clouds had to say, and I began to listen to other. And I think, most importantly for all of us, then you begin to learn to listen to the soul, the soul of yourself in here, which is also the soul of everyone else.” —Joy Harjo, Poet
I come from immigrant stock. I grew up in Chicago back when parents told their kids to go to school and make sure they graduated from college with a degree that would get them a good paying job with health insurance. They lectured to us in broken English to work hard, like they did, save our money, get married, buy a house, and give them grandchildren named after them.
I didn’t follow these instructions too well and managed to squeeze more of “me” into my life. I was able to get student grants and loans and chose a local college in downtown Chicago, one that excelled in the arts and communications. My parents didn’t scoff because the teachers were professionals who held serious day jobs. My college teachers gave me the confidence and determination I needed to fulfill my heart’s desire to become a writer and poet.
Once out in the world, I made sure I worked in fields that would be supremely interesting to me and enabled me to write. I found wildly diversified careers that challenged and widened my breath of experience as a writer in technology, startups, music production, and, my favorite gig, I was the international director and co-founder of the Celebrant Foundation & Institute, an educational organization teaching and certifying people to become professional life-cycle celebrants/ritual-makers who create, write and perform personalized weddings, funerals, and every other coming-of-age/milestone ceremony imaginable.
Last year I passed my 20-year director’s torch to my successor and embarked on my next calling. Exciting news: There is always a next calling that brings forth from our past something essential to our very existence that marinates and waits for the precious moment to emerge.
I was always a writer and foremost—a poet. My poet muse and I joined forces long ago, and now the time came for us to unite, create, write, perform and publish poetry.
My passion for poetry began as a child. I was completely turned on by poetry. I loved reading it, writing it, gifting it, and studying it—even in different languages. I attended poetry readings and got to know poets who are alive and those residing on the flip-side. In my accumulated six decades I’ve discovered that our lives are poems, and we’re the makers of our lives. We are poet makers/creators, so say our ancient ancestors who passed this wisdom to us and who reaffirm that human beings are born with poet nature.
Through our magical, mind-boggling consciousness, we are given the ability to perceive, contemplate, feel, sense, imagine, create, communicate, and emotionalize our reality in our realm. Poetry is the sane-ful and artful way to go about living life through this whirlwind world full of trials, tribulations, triumphs, comedies, tragedies, ecstasies, and agonies.
Poetry can express and manifest itself so subtly and in us; for instance, in the way we walk, our expressions and the sound of our voice when we talk. Poetry shows up in everything we do, affect, and create. For example, when we’re immersed in activities like painting, drawing, photography, mathematics, meditation, philosophy, nature, music, writing, athletics, gardening, and cooking. Poetry is the sensational, authentic, divine essence of soul that makes our lives worth living.
When you put your attention on summoning your Poetry Soul, it will be all too eager to come out and play with you.
Poetry can be a personal thing too; you don’t have to do it for anyone else but yourself.
It can appear spontaneously in the moment and gone in an instant, to be either remembered or forgotten.
You can actualize it in your journal or diary, record it in memory, publish your work and give it to the world, speak it aloud to an audience or the shrub by the chain link fence in your yard.
Poetry is the real vibrant ingredient that makes us “hue-mans.”
Poet José Saramago tells us, “Inside us there is something that has no name, that something is what we are.”