Can poetry help us resolve social issues?


When I first started this blog, my intention was to explore the benefits that poetry can bring to the world of business; how can we become better in what we do, by improving our creativity, leadership skills, cognitive and strategic thinking, communication, tacit knowledge and ext. With time, blog evolved into something much more and deeper and on a few occasions I’ve also wrote about the transformative power of poetry.

Recently, I came a cross an article, an interview with poet Jane Hirshfield where she shares her view on how poetry can help us move forward in dealing with even bigger social problems:

I think we know the world needs changing. Things are going awry left and right. I firmly believe that in our very practical, technological, and scientific age, the values of all the arts, but of poetry in particular, are necessary for moving the world forward. I’m talking about things like compassion, empathy, permeability, interconnection, and the recognition of how important it is to allow uncertainty in our lives.

One of the current great problems in the world is fundamentalism of every kind – political, spiritual — and poetry is an antidote to fundamentalism. Poetry is about the clarities that you find when you don’t simplify. They’re about complexity, nuance, subtlety. Poems also create larger fields of possibilities. The imagination is limitless, so even when a person is confronted with an unchangeable outer circumstance, one thing poems give you is there is always a changeability, a malleability, of inner circumstance. That’s the beginning of freedom.

With these beautiful words, I think she captured the true essence of poetry; its purpose and reason for existence: every poem is like taking a journey to a different world where everything is possible and we can truly chose our experiences and taste liberation in every sense.

In her wonderful book “Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World.” Jane Hirshfield, further explores hidden strength that poetry holds and especially focuses on the beauty of uncertainty, not knowing everything – just enjoying to be.

And today, I invite you when you write, at least for a minute stop asking yourself questions on how, where, why – liberate yourself from any false predicaments and just be present, sink into your own being and feel your inner world; connect with your own subtle energies, where self-acceptance and self-trust takes place – you might be surprised how your reality change.

By allowing ourselves to transform our inner world, we are transforming the world around us as well.

Some stories last many centuries,
others only a moment.
All alter over that lifetime like beach-glass,
grow distant and more beautiful with salt.

Yet even today, to look at a tree
and ask the story Who are you? is to be transformed.

There is a stage in us where each being, each thing, is a mirror.

Then the bees of self pour from the hive-door,
ravenous to enter the sweetness of flowering nettles and thistle.

Next comes the ringing a stone or violin or empty bucket
gives off – 
the immeasurable’s continuous singing,
before it goes back into story and feeling.

In Borneo, there are palm trees that walk on their high roots.
Slowly, with effort, they lift one leg then another.

I would like to join that stilted transmigration,
to feel my own skin vertical as theirs:
an ant-road, a highway for beetles.

I would like not minding, whatever travels my heart.
To follow it all the way into leaf-form, bark-furl, root-touch,
and then keep walking, unimaginably further. 

Jane Hirshfield

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12 thoughts on “Can poetry help us resolve social issues?

  1. good post! yes, I do think poetry can play an important part in social issues…sometimes a few short and maybe even funny lines can accomplish what thousands of words in a big newspaper can’t accomplish. An image, a few adjectives and names, can give an indelible light on a topic…making fun of a debate debacle can accomplish impressions that outlast serious -faced yak yak yak on the talk shows. Like editorial cartoons… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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