Sails is a section of troutswirl that is devoted to presenting questions for discussion and debate on the nature and possibilities of haiku. Sails will be overseen by Peter Yovu. For an introduction to this section, see Sails.
presented by Peter Yovu
What is the Purpose of our Poetry?
I love the way questions arise on this blog quite naturally, inevitably, even. I come back to its guiding name, troutswirl, and think how in the animated turns of activity the blog generates, matters are raised as from a pond’s muddy floor, some shining like bits of mica coming into the sun, others still murky, fleeting, with fins. Some with teeth. One question has swirled up with great clarity, and some might say, a degree of urgency.
It was first asked by Paul Miller in a post beneath Envoy 4: “what is the purpose of our poetry?”
The word “purpose,” my dictionary tells me, is essentially the same as “propose,” to “put forward.” Certainly every time we write a poem and share it, we literally put it, and ourselves, forward. By doing so, is there something we want?
The invitation then, as I understand Paul’s question, is to explore what each of us purposes, or proposes, in and by our writing. The word “purpose” has implications not all will feel comfortable with; it may strike some as counter-intuitive in relation to art, which for many exists for its own sake. It implies a sense of what is private (personal) but also what is public, insofar as we wish to publish our work, to make it available to others, and perhaps to have an effect—to change something—but on what level, and to what degree? If there is a continuum between the personal (“my purpose is to see myself and my world more clearly”) and the public (“my purpose is to engage with the world at large in ways which may effect change”)— where do you find yourself? Of course, each of us will define his or her own continuum, or find another way entirely to enter the question.
As I mentioned before, and no doubt needless to repeat, this is an open forum wherein the guiding principle is mutual respect. The question of our 4th Sailing, I hope, will prompt discussion and maybe debate. I am curious about how you (and I) will enter it. I look forward, as always, to your response.