I don’t see how anyone could accurately express the condition of our time in rational terms. There’s just no way. No amount of language—language simply doesn’t allow for it. Language is simply incapable of expressing things that don’t make sense. Only poetry, the transcendence of language, the manipulation and mutation of words to say that which words can’t say, only poetry could express these conditions fairly and accurately. Because this is madness by its very form, so madness must be summoned in order to express it. And so, there is an “it”, right? There is this “it” out there, this thingness, so to speak, and by the way, sometimes poets have to make words up and phrases up to get the point across because a particular idea just simply hasn’t been expressed before. So poets have to coin these things. But anyway. We don’t have a word for it, we don’t understand it, we can’t express it, but it’s there. It’s the most there thing that there is, so how do we address it? How do we bring this collective spirit to the surface in order to observe it and work through it together? Well, a poet comes along and uses the mechanisms of language to basically draw a picture or paint an outline of our collective and common experience. And that experience is then presented in code, in the form of a poem, and the reader must understand this in order to approach the poem properly.
A lot of people strongly dislike poetry, or dismiss poetry, or don’t “get” it or think it’s not for them. But I believe it’s because we’re not trained to approach it properly. Many of us approach words in poems as we would any other set of words, which is a terrible mistake. A poem is, what a poem is supposed to be, is a strand of coded feelings, right? It’s the compressed pill of strong emotions which you as the reader take in, in order to have a transcendental experience. It’s like an algorithm that needs to be programmed into the system in order to create what is projected on the screen, right? You can’t see the image in the algorithm, but it’s there. It’s embedded. And so, you sort of need to sit back and just let the poem run itself and if you’re reading a good poem, and the poet is properly executing the craft, then as you read, without even understanding what you’re reading and hearing in terms of content, you should start to notice certain feelings and thoughts arising. You should without explanation suddenly start to feel sad. Or anxious. Or happy. Or alone. Whatever that feeling is that the poet has encoded into the words which you’re now experiencing. And because we are so commonly trained to seek information out of words, um, we fail terribly when we approach poetry because poems don’t have any information to offer. Poems are coded emotions. In fact, if I had to give any advice at all, I’d say that your best bet is to ignore the words completely at first, to just listen to the sound of what you’re hearing over and over a few times and try to notice which thoughts and feelings are coming up. And poems can bring about extraordinarily strong feelings if the poet has done it right.
Read more by Yousef Alqamoussi.