Over the past two weeks I have stumbled into live poetry readings. When I was in Princeton, I walked into what I thought was the main chapel only to find their spring poetry festival where Nobel Prize winning poet, Seamus Haney was reciting some of his work. Then a week or so later I was at a fundraiser where a few local artists also performed some of their poetry. Now to set things straight, I have never been a “fan” of poetry outside of music, nor have I read any poetry not assigned to me by an evil high school teacher. But, something happened to me at BOTH of those readings.
I was changed.
Something inside my soul was MOVED.
I heard these craftsmen/women express some of the deepest experiences of the human condition using only words. They did something masterful as well. They used some mundane everyday experiences to describe some deeply spiritual emotions. They were able to stop and notice the Transcendant that exsists in the everyday . . . using only words.
. . . but not new.
“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” (The Universe was spoken into existence through–words.)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (All of humanity was saved through word.)
Yes, I have underestimated the power of words. In a world where information is the most valuable currency, we are seeing that currency becomed quickly devalued through the explosion of words through endless websites, blogs, text messages, books, magazines, billboards, songs, commercials, etc. that are all spouting WORDS without any meaning, thought or significance. (Perhaps this blog simply is contributing to the problem.)
My foray into the world of poetry reminded me how powerful, life-giving, soul-nourishing WORDS can be. Forget the image. Forget the power of 24 frames a second numbing my mind into slush. Forget print image after print image. Without the WORD, none of these ideas would ever have existed.
Perhaps what made these two experiences wasn’t the reading of poetry, but the live performance of that poetry. The word being active, live–as it was expressed by the author. . . kind of like Genesis 1.