Last year I had the chance to organise a poetry circle. It ran bi-weekly and it was a wonderful opportunity to bring together people from all walks of life through a love for poetry. We even managed to bring in other artistic disciplines and have evenings with improvisational music and drawing. Thinking about it has brought fond memories and reminded me of the importance of community when it comes to poetry – or any art for that matter.
While it is ok to develop your art in the closed confines of your studio, home, bed (deep empathy felt here), I do believe art is a fluid thing: it responds to its surroundings, to its audience. It’s a process of exchange, of communication: of communicating particularly the feelings, impressions, thoughts that we find are hard to put into words.
As for myself, this process has to go both ways. I never grew so much as a poet as when I started sharing my writing. I find this is especially difficult when it comes to poetry: many of my friends will write poetry, but they’ll keep it a secret. “It’s just a way for me to get my feelings and thoughts out, for myself” Poetry is an intimate act. It certainly is for me. There’s certainly poems I’d struggle to share. Some I probably never will. And I do enjoy that intimacy – a relationship with your innermost self facilitated by pen and paper.
Nonetheless, creating a safe and creatively indulgent space was a fantastically rewarding experience. The sort of thing that I suppose used to be rather commonplace for poetry, and art on the whole. Cue beatnik dreams. I find my entire poetry will indeed respond to the community element – being able to share things out loud, and experience people’s reactions. It’s a wonderful capacity: say “the blue hour of the day” and immediately we’re all there. Put up a painting of a landscape, a photograph of the sunlight brushing the corner of a kitchen table.