Can poetry be true?

When you sit down to write, you write what you see, what you feel. What you think you see and feel. 

When you sit to write, you write your reality—the world around as you know it. The wind tap-dancing on still lake, leaves turning their faces away from the heat, and creeping ants powering through mountains to their anthills.

But reality isn’t always spring blossoms rippling lakes. It’s fear, inequality, and hatred too. It’s about persistently enduring unspeakable acts.

Reality ruffles the mind. Inspires, frightens.

Whether it’s about nature, economy, science, or injustice, poetry stems from real life. 

Poetry stings—triggers tears and fears. Poetry shoves its unbrushed teeth against our faces, sending marred breath down our spines, churning our stomachs, making gruelling truths known.

As fresh grave awaiting body, poetry waits for the poet to fill it up with mangled words pulled from the depths of their heart, real words twisted, anger and love channeled in the right direction, feelings embalmed, and dressed up ready for display in all its grandeur.

Poetry reeks of truth. And in the process of creating poetry, the poet, as folding a dough into itself, digs into themselves, to find truth they never knew was within.

If everything is real, poetry is everything. And if nothing else is, poetry is.


I recently attended a poetry festival called Poetry on the Move. One of the discussions was about reality in poetry. This is what I came up with as I mulled over that topic. Here’re some more thoughts from the festival: What should poetry be?, What’s the value of poetry?, and Labels.

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