In a poetic mood
run if you don't like poetry...or stick around
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. - Lao Tzu
(beware, poem ahead…)
I get that not everyone likes poetry, but I think more people would if they took time to understand it.
Poetry illuminates that which prose doesn’t; it brings words and imagery to play in imaginative ways. Typically, poetry speaks to the essence of things. Poetry can be a tiny vignette or a larger universal truth, told through meter and rhyme, or not.
Poetry ruminates and reflects, explores thoughts and emotions, or a snapshot in time, without necessarily being linear.
Prose is composed in everyday language—the way we naturally speak following familiar grammatical conventions. Yes, this is a general and high-level definition, and it’s my quick swipe at it—please don’t hurt me, novelists.
I’m not suggesting poetry is better than prose; it’s just different.
Why talk poetry?
I’ll not prolong my inadequate attempt to say what poetry is or can be. Instead, I’ll share a poem I wrote last September. The poem I’m sharing is a form called a cento.
A cento is a poem composed of lines or passages written by other authors but assembled in a new way, order, or form. It’s a word collage, a mash-up, and they’re fun to create.
Recently, life’s profound delights have been making a home with me.
Vague, I know, but suffice it to say that joy is meeting me, seeing me, and enriching my life multifold. This is unexpected and caught me way off-guard; it’s sublime—and this connection requires that I show up as my whole self, unmediated and unmasked.
Challenging? Sure! But oh my, how did I get so lucky? :)
Now, what does that obscure tease of a love letter up there have to do with a poem I’m sharing with you? Lots.
I think in poetry, when attempting to describe the indescribable.
In doing so, I was going through the mountain of poems I’ve written over the years to see if something fits this situation I’m in.
During my rabbit-holing I came across this cento I wrote using the words of the iconic punk-poet rockstar Patti Smith.
Patti Smith is a legend. Her words energize me and her unwavering commitment to creating—whether music, photography, or poetry—inspires me. So it was a pleasure to disassemble and reassemble her lines into a poem.
I composed this poem using lines from the various writings in her book, Early Work: 1970-1979. I took each line from a separate work. The individual works are cited below in order of appearance.
I hope you enjoy it.
I have been laying here a long time in stillness
fascist or lover it doesn’t matter
to have no need for the apparatus
I sink in the shadow of dust
coated with phosphorous they glow in the dark
as there and as fruitless as the parthenon (sans goddess)
i am reckless. i never do anything according to the rules
I’m on the ledge. that’s a several story drop
maybe it’s just being free
I’m ancient I’m stunning I’m just your style.
- shanna trenholm
Works referenced in order of appearance:
italy (the round)
the ballad of hagen waker
a fleet of deer
(source: Smith, Patti. Early Work: 1970-1979. New York, W.W. Norton, 1994)
Tell me: poetry, love it, hate it, or somewhere in-between?
Heartfelt thank yous to Janet, Ron & Barbara, Rich, @girlfuturist, Sande, Sara, Roxanne, Errant Dames, Denny, Bill, Brian & anonymous someones for supporting life: examined through Buy Me a Coffee.
Your generosity, in part, affords me time to write this letter to you each week(ish).
Whether a coffee, a comment, a like, or a share—I’m grateful to have you along for the ride.
Until next time —> be kind, hug animals, and thank you for reading life: examined!