Power of Poetry

The past two weeks have trudged along slowly and agonizingly. I didn't realize how much work I had until it came down to actually doing it all and handing it in. This past week alone, I had two essays, two assignments, a test, and a drama performance. Sleep and food were two glorious things that I could only dream of and work towards.

When life gets busy, stressful, and crazy, it's hard to see a purpose behind it. It's hard to tell yourself that yes, indeed, memorizing all these lines for a drama class will enable you to get a job and live well in the future. It's hard to make a connection between the monotonous onslaught of work you get in school and the idealistic vision of yourself working in a job you love and are paid for. Hard, but not impossible.

After my crazy stressful week, I decided there was no better way to relax than by attending a lecture (ha!). This wasn't any kind of lecture, though... it was Nick Mount's lecture on Sylvia Plath for ENG140. Mount is an infamous professor at UofT - students worship him, girls crush on him, guys want to be him. He makes people love English. It was in his class, three years ago, that I fell in love with Plath and started a lifetime commitment with her poetry and prose (by commitment, I mean I got a tattoo of one of her quotes... see below).

There's truly nothing like a Mount lecture to help you get back on your feet again... to inspire you, to remind you that you're doing this (aka English) for a reason. Yesterday's lecture was about a lot of things, but I came out with a few main points that I hope inspire you as well:
  • All art offers something unique and different, but literature is particularly special because unlike a sculpture or a painting, it depicts time. Use this to your advantage as a writer. Don't focus on a single moment, focus on the before and after. Show the story. Make use of all the tenses you have at your disposal. 
  • Poetry has so many powers. One of them is that it makes the reader pause time and focus on one specific thing: whether that's a balloon popping, a moment of sadness, or reunited love. Writers have the power to get people to pay attention to something. Choose a "something" that is beautiful, important, and has meaning. Show readers things that are in front of them all the time, but they don't truly see
  • Poetry is a healing device. If you're sad, angry, confused, frustrated, etc, etc, there is no better medium to pour your pain into than a poem. After all, "Nobody would be making poetry if they could be making love."
How, you ask, did a two hour lecture on poetry successfully de-stress me? Maybe it was Mount's soothing voice, the beautiful poetry of Plath herself, or the lesson of art actually meaning something and doing something. As a 4th-year English student constantly weighed down by literary theory and hundred-page novels, it was nice to be reminded that words aren't pointless, but a powerful tool to change the world.