Elizabeth Marshall, fellow Tweetspeak Poetry barista and mischief maker, shares a reflection on poetry to wind up our month of Making Manifest. Someday I’m going to meet this sweet spirit face-to-face, and I’m delighted to welcome her into this space today. Oh, and be sure to read all the way to the end… there’s a giveaway.
Years ago on an island vacation, I found a message-in-a-bottle in my path as I walked the shoreline. Tossed out by two sailors years before, it was indeed a mysterious encounter. Discovering poetry has felt a bit like that moment. How we ever crossed paths, met and fell in love is part mystery and part love story.
I have only loved and written poetry for a few short years. And I wonder where I was before, how I really lived “back then” and what I missed. Poetry invites me to see infinitely more of God’s world. It asks, “Did you see the hummingbird hidden, hovering while feasting?” Poetry allows me to be—no, insists I be—vulnerable. And it gives me permission to be brave through turmoil and triumph. It helps me see intricate detail, to simplify and condense it into a small package. To lap up the lovely, soak in the pain and reformulate it from a cryptic experience into something called poetry. But mostly it allows me to net and hold beauty.
I often define my life now as “before” and “after” poetry.
Poetry has been a lens for seeing through the fog of life. I see clouds cauliflowered one moment and as an exaggerated brain-mass the next. The language of poetry allows me to process, define, redefine, and reconstitute creation and beauty, to distill pain and difficulty. Re-fracturing through the poetic lens pours the beautiful chaos and magnificent creation through a sieve. It allows me as a poet and a partaker of poetry to take bite-sized, manageable portions from the generously-set banquet table that is this God-given world.
I’ve discovered poetry is the artist’s science to explain the unexplainable and define the undefinable. It can wrap words around moments and capture with all the senses what the photographer can frame merely, though beautifully, through a camera’s visual lens
I’ve learned it is both a translator of life and a container to hold the mystery. Poetry is as love in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. It bears, it forgives, it seeks, it does not judge. It is a giver, not a taker. It slows the hurried, comforts those who mourn and celebrates with those who rejoice.
Poetry can multiply beauty and decrease pain. It is the license to live with unbridled passion as an investigator, interpreter, and archivist of all that unfolds and unravels before me
When I as a poet am fully present, I smell, taste, see, hear, and touch the wonder of a fragment in time. Then I can dress that moment in the proper word garment and present it as an offering.
I am not a poetry expert, and because it’s grace-filled and inviting, poetry doesn’t require that I be. God calls me to live fully, with passion. And poetry gives me the eyes and the language to open the wonder, to reveal those cauliflower clouds and waves like tongues licking the shore. It invites, hopes, dreams, and seeks. It both makes me a child and grows me up. It rocks me to sleep and wakes me up.
God, the giver of gifts and life, has given me a love for life through a lens of poetry. I view life now with a different slant, and seeing anew has been akin to knowing Him afresh.
“Come explore the world through the eyes of the poet. Come hear God speak and make Himself manifest.” That has been the whisper of the Creator to this child.
An introverted extrovert, Elizabeth is a curious noticer who lives by the sea in a small Southern shrimping village. Poetry wakes her up and rocks her to sleep. She loves the word “and” and contradictions. Her poetry and prose can be found on a blog which bears her name. Visit her at wynnegraceappears.com where she sees the world through a lens of grace. She is honored to have had her work appear at Tweetspeak Poetry where she is a Guest Writer and Social Media Associate. Her poetry has appeared at Burnside Writers Collective and elsewhere. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @graceappears. Married for 25 years, she is momma to three growing-up children.
A QUESTION FOR YOU: How is poetry a part of your life? Or is it? If not, why not?
A GIVEAWAY: Would you like to taste and see how poetry can sweeten your day? I’m giving away TWO one-year subscriptions to Every Day Poems–a poem in your inbox every weekday. And ONE copy of How to Read a Poem by Tania Runyan. Just leave a comment below–preferably answer the question. 🙂 We’re not fancy here. Grace the Grandgirl will draw the winners from a hat–probably a pink one–on Wednesday, June 4.
THANK YOU! I’m so grateful to everyone who took this journey through Making Manifest: On Faith, Creativity, and the Kingdom at Hand with me. Without you, I may have gotten sidetracked. You’ve helped hold me accountable to the finish, and it’s indeed been a month of holy collisions and connections. Thank you to all those guests who agreed to share their words in this space. And a huge hug to Dave Harrity who agreed to walk alongside us and offer encouragement in our private Facebook group. It’s been a beautiful and memorable month. And we’ve only just begun.