Often I look back on my personal history with poetry, rather short though it is, and wonder if poetry came to me or if I came to poetry. It seems important for me to recall the arrival of poetry into my life. To define the relationship. To identify the nuances of its arrival. To mark and acknowledge life before, since and after it.

Saying yes to life as an artist, writer, poet changes things. I am Alice going behind the looking glass. I am peeling back layers of an onion-skinned world. I am a hunter-gatherer looking for food for my table. I am a guest every day and the world is my gracious host.

Poetry is a benchmark. A barometer. A lens. Poetry takes up a large space in my world. It colors the way I view and interpret life. I think poetry issued a goldleaf-edged invitation to me and clearly I responded  “yes”. And in saying yes, I said yes to life.

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It is raining as I play the computer keyboard with my fingertips tap, tap tapping while the rain mimics me. I am writing. As I type, memories bubble up of my days as a young girl sitting at the piano. Tapping out the letters, forming the words and phrases, spilling out poetry onto the page. I am a musician. Words are my instruments. Poetry is my music. The rain, like background music, sets the mood, blankets the morning with a wet gray deluge. Bathes the earth. Showers my world with heaven’s waterworks.

Running the world through the sieve of poetry highlights wonder. Adds dimension. Breathes life into still life. Poetry invites me to notice. To observe. To stall and to stare. But perhaps the greatest gift that comes with saying yes to poetry’s invitation is that it grants me the privilege of creating. Of contributing. Of making art. Poetry says be my guest. It opens a world, colors and shades it in fresh tones. Woos me in with its three dimensional beauty. Grants me space and a place with the heart of a hospitable host.

rainy day_GraceTable

As an artist, as a co-creator, this is my medium of choice. By gift. Invited to take the hand of poetry, I have a place in the world as an artist. Invited to participate with other artists. Given the opportunity to co-create with The Creator. I am a poet. I have a place at the table. I am producing food for the soul. Soul-food. Take my art. Ingest it. And savor it. It is a gift. Because I have been given a gift.

How beautiful the gift of poetry. Poetry invites me to tilt and slant my lens. To look twice. On my first pass, I may miss the wonder and mystery. I may miss the whimsy. But poetry says come back with the eyes of artist. And really look. Drink it all in. Slow sips. Then big gulps. Then let the liquid rest on the edge of your mouth and seep in the cracks of your smile.

This is my invitation and this is yours too. To take sips and long gulps of the beauty and of the ordinary until it becomes extra-ordinary. To say yes to hearing, tasting, seeing and smelling life’s smallest nuances, hidden in the folds of life. To look for rhythm and rhyme. To form them too. To take the plain brown wrapping paper moments, wrap them in language, in poetry, until they are origami made of fine Italian writing paper.

Defining poetry is an illusive invitation. Accept it and try to pinpoint language. Edgar Allen Poe wrote, “I would define, in brief, the poetry of words as the rhythmical creation of Beauty.” While Plutarch says this of poetry: “Painting is silent poetry and poetry is painting that speaks.”

As a writer and artist, poetry allows me to paint my interpretation of God’s creation. With words. It gives me a brush with which to paint, capturing seconds and minutes of my God given life. With poetry, I can tell you my pain and my joy. Turn it on its head and slant it, so that I give you a glimpse and an invitation. You are not called to see it exactly as I do, but you are allowed to join me with your own interpretation. If I show you wonder, passion and feelings with my words, perhaps poetry will invite you to dig deeper into your own.

Robert Frost wrote, “Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”  When my words, emotions and humanness need a container in which to feel safe and held, poetry provides the porcelain blue vase. Or a patina copper antique pitcher. Poetry houses my art. Keeps it for safe keeping.

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It is a giver of second chances. And do-overs. To live fully, vibrantly, hopefully, artfully, gracefully. And to continue to invite others to dig past the crustiness and dullness. To find the spark, the glimmers, the beauty. Always. To miss nothing of what God has designed for his people. To ingest it all with gratitude and joy.

“The poet doesn’t invent. He listens.” These words of Jean Cocteau remind me, and invite me. They call me into a life of listening  and living with all of my senses fully engaged.

And I respond with an enthusiastic “yes.” Yes to going into the world of art, beauty, words and poetry. To embracing the God gift. To writing and to never stop wanting to capture the world with the net of my words. To invite the world into my world. And to promise that in it there will be poetry.

Writing poetry. Reading poetry. Living a life poetic. I am coming to the table and feasting on words. Poet Mark Strand wrote:

“Ink runs from the corners of my mouth. There is no happiness like mine.I have been eating poetry.”

Welcome to the banquet table. Welcome to the feast. Say yes to your invitation. Say yes to viewing God’s elaborate gift, the world, through the lens of poetry.  

 

“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” — Leonard Cohen

 

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Elizabeth Marshall / Posts / Blog

Elizabeth Wynne Marshall is a writer, poet, blogger. A lover of grace & the sea she spends her days living and writing out the beautiful ordinary in a life lived by the sea. Her words may be found at her writing home, elizabeth w. marshall, poetry & prose through a lens of grace.
On twitter & instagram, she is @graceappears.

  • Lisha Epperson

    It’s easy to silence my inner poet but I adore this post Elizabeth. Thank you for the invitation and encouragement to explore God’s world through the lens of poetry.

    September 14th, 2015 0:42
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  • Sandra Heska King
    http://sandraheskaking.com/

    I love eating poetry at the same table with you, my friend. (Pass a napkin, please.)

    September 14th, 2015 9:38
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  • Donna Falcone

    Wonderful post, Elizabeth! I especially love how the movement of typing is reminding you of playing the piano… such a great sensory image/feeling that really resonates with me.

    September 14th, 2015 9:45
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  • Elizabeth

    Thank you for the beautiful words today. While I don’t write poetry, I have been thinking a lot lately about how I can slow down and see the world as a poet does. This post gave food to my soul.

    September 14th, 2015 11:50
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  • Deb Anderson Weaver

    Wow. This is lovely.

    September 14th, 2015 12:02
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  • Shelly Miller
    http://redemptionsbeauty.com/

    Oh Elizabeth, I have chills. I’m standing in the window, my computer on the ledge looking out on the landscape of the Cotswolds with chill bumps from your words. You truly have a poets heart. This is so lovely. xx

    September 14th, 2015 14:17
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  • Ashley Tolins Larkin

    Thank you for this beauty, dear Elizabeth. It comforts and inspires me. ❤️

    September 15th, 2015 15:03
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  • Jody Ohlsen Collins
    Jody Ohlsen Collins

    Oh, joy….sharing the power of poetry. Lovely! And the Leonard Cohen quote is priceless. Thank you Elizabeth. Thank you, Grace Table.

    September 21st, 2015 11:39
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  • Trish Pederson
    http://invisiblelove.com/2015/09/06/when-god-said-go-to-planned-parenthood/

    Elizabeth,

    This is one of the most beautiful posts I have read here at the Grace Table. I will have to go back for seconds and thirds and fourths of this one. I WILL savor your words and accept them as a gift. You are secure,dear one, in your gifting because it is just that, a gift to be shared. I am only learning that with my writing. There is a constant tension going on within me of wanting to share my writing with the world and being fearful that it is prideful to do so. Yet, God speaks, “arise my darling, come run with Me!”

    So I am running with the writing and pray He is glorified!

    Trish

    September 22nd, 2015 10:56
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