Thursday Verseday with Arlinda
A poet writes from experience, from observation, and in doing so allows a world of readers to feel what the poet felt and imagined while writing the poem. Can you conceive what an immense pressure a poet must feel in attempting to recreate an image or a feeling through words on paper? A poet lives in a world of words; the words on a page force the poet into different identities in which the poet is no longer themselves, but rather a reporter, an artist, and a creator. In 1818, John Keats wrote a letter to Richard Woodhouse which states, “A poet is the most unpoetical of any thing in existence; because he has no identity…The Sun, the Moon, the Sea and Men and Women who are creatures of impulse are poetical and have about them an unchangeable attribute—the poet has none; no identity.” The poet changes in order to convey a message within their poems; they change in order to fit the surroundings of the poems they are creating.
While Thursday Verseday’s with me usually discuss my favorite poems from the past, the poem featured this week is much more recent. Poet Ben Jorisch was featured in Obscura’s Literary Magazine in the spring of 2016. His poem “I Don’t Want to be a Poet Anymore” reminded me of the struggles John Keats discussed in his letter to Richard Woodhouse. Just as in Keats’ letter, the speaker in Ben’s poem draws attention to the struggle a poet faces with too many words overwhelming their mind to the point where they lose their own identity. In Ben Jorisch’s poem, the speaker states, “But the words are too much with me, my head is not my own/ A poet has no identity. A poet is a nightingale/ Why should I labor and waste in the dark for immortal words when they don’t preserve me?” The speaker questions why he spends his life creating words that will long outlive his own life. The poem concludes by expressing “I have no experiences, just moments to be transcribed/ All I want is to live for the sake of living, not for the words it makes/ But there is no freedom for a poet, there is no escaping the page.” These beautifully written and powerful lines allow readers to understand the pull a poet feels towards writing. Ben Jorisch’s poem is a modern take on the sacrifices a poet makes with their own identity in order to create everlasting words on a page.
This poem makes you feel the pull of words that a writer feels. What an immeasurably powerful feeling it is which draws a writer to write. Are the words written on a page worth sacrificing one’s identity? Can we find ourselves through the words we write? A writer lives for the words they transcribe to a page. It is nothing short of magical to have the ability to cause individuals to experience the feeling behind written words.
Ben Jorisch’s poem is featured in Obscura’s spring 2016 edition and can be found on the Obscura website along with many more amazing pieces in previous Obscura editions. When you get a chance, take some time and read through previous Obscura editions, trust me, it’s worth the read.