‘Poetry is never a means; poetry is life itself, existence itself, not a means for saying something. I cannot conceive of a human being without his poetic essence. The first human was a poet; everything was poetry in his life. Poetry is not merely writing poems; it is a way of seeing things. A way of loving, of thinking and of living. Poetry is our existence. Everything that is linked to the creativity of a human being is tied to a poetic aspect.’
From Interview with Adonis in POEM Vol.2.2. http://poemmagazine.org/
Well – I have been so excited by this interview. Adonis who is referred to as ‘the greatest living poet of the Arab world’ says so many things that I have been struggling to think and say for a long time. Somehow at the moment to think of poetry in the Arab world of Syria (Adonis’s original home) and the horrors of Gaza is to find a degree of hope in the way in which poetry can take even the worst moments of ‘life itself’ and try to find the truth and the meaning in the awfulness. Kei Miller wrote:
for the dying that will come to all of us
but may it come soft as a boat drifting across the bayou.
May it find us unrattled and as unflummoxed as the beaver’
from ‘Prayer for the Unflummoxed Beaver’ in The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion
The folk singer and writer Ralph McTell http://www.ralphmctell.co.uk had a grey parrot which, when feeling in the mood, could be persuaded to talk at length. He could mimic Ralph’s mother, the telephone and many other things but my favourite was his wistful question, ‘What’s it all about Ralphie?’ I never quite forgot that and it still makes me laugh to remember sitting in the orchard of Ralph’s Cornwall house with Brenda de Courcy and waiting to see if the parrot was going to perform. The question he posed though is one that occurs over and over – What is it all about? And how can one take on that responsibility of witnessing to the truth of the things that Adonis is saying?
It is being sure I suppose that what we say, and the way in which we say it, is authentic and truthful. I am just finding the edge again of being more ‘human and entire’ as my knees heal, I think that soon I might be driving again and free to move around as I want and, at long last, writing is opening out for me again. There are so many things I want to write and explore and in this beautiful, peaceful place with its silence and garden full of flowers and vegetables and fruit there is that same need for discipline and commitment so that things are used not wasted, so we live simply but properly respecting the land that gives us so much. It all opens out, like the birds and the unflummoxed beavers it is all there but we have to stop long enough to be able to really see it.