Poetry and Awareness


I feel the sunset before I see the first rays over the mountain. I taste the salt before the Lynn Canal’s waves splash over the bow of the green kayak. I know it is going to rain before western clouds arrive and the summer evening turns active and chaotic. The ravens fly in a circular pattern, their voice carries for miles, and I hear their wings flap.

Through these events, I have gained an awareness of the surroundings. I have gained an understanding of something deeper and beyond here, and the inclination to listen to myself. How I feel and react to the things I do not yet see outside my physical self, but that have arrived from elsewhere, required time, patience and silence. This is also the earth and fertile soil where poetry first begins to take root. Poetry is an art form that stems from the writer’s awareness.

An awareness of what is around you and what you walk within, touches only the surface of an existence. Self-awareness of how this environment affects you, and the resulting action is a level beneath the surface. The ultimate goal is an awareness that nature and everything is within us. The two, nature and beings, are inseparable, and when one of them has an experience, so too does the other. How do poets respond to this level of consciousness and awareness? How can a writer’s level of awareness be increased, thus allowing the field of vision to become focused? Listen and do not reach for that which is coming towards you. The forces are already around and waiting for the doors to open and the being to make a decision to step through.

The sun is setting and half of its body has sunk into the distant hills. The moment touches some nerve or some crevasse in the mind. At the time, it does not matter why — only that it must be listened to and allowed a chance to surface and breathe its own winter air.

Ideas, thoughts, stanzas and fragments are born from what is seen, what is felt, what is known, and what is unknown. The drive home from a day in the northern white-stained woods casting long shadows across the open fields, lends itself nicely to daydreaming and writing.

Lake Superior waves crash on glacial rock miles away from their birthplace. Water freezes in ancient whorls and reflects the sunrise as the wind howls from the southeast. Hot coffee steams and cools quickly. Ravens play a game of chase — starting inland and swooping out over the sea. The sun is now brighter and the water is cold. This is a simple life, yet it carries so much feeling; it is easy to be overwhelmed. Something inside is stirring, and with a deep breath and focused attention, awareness of the origins of life, and words the wind speaks of, become clearer. And from this focus I see the first boulders fall down from the mountain tops; I see Lake Superior many times larger and deeper, and swollen rivers just beginning to carve and shape valleys, before the glaciers arrive.

Anything else cluttering the mind and building walls is razed and the focus becomes this scene, this landscape of nature. Everything we are and everything we touch is rooted in the empty fields. At times the fields must be cultivated to allow the nothing to grow.

Poetry stems from the everyday activities that happen directly and indirectly. An event may translate into a poem consisting of a line-by-line report, or it becomes a catalyst and central theme of a larger piece exploring nature, the world, and the universe. Any of these experiences can lead to a piece of art with time and patience. Give in to what you feel and how you react to a moment. Authentic poetry truly comes from what is known and experienced. Write what you know (subconsciously and sub-consciously) and readers will have the opportunity to dive deeper into the piece, and in the end, create their personal experience.

The Edge invites you to submit poems of any form and convention, up to 40 lines in length, for publication in The Edge. Send 2 to 3 unpublished poems and a short bio to [email protected].

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