If you had to endow a writer with the most necessary pieces of equipment what would they be?
A yellow legal pad?
A thick skin?
A bottle of Jack Daniels?
When asked this same question the indomitable Maya Angelou replied:
Ears. Ears. To hear the language. But there’s no one piece of equipment that is most necessary. Courage, first.
Read The Paris Review interview here
My answer to this question would be that writers must read poetry. We must read it to ‘tune’ our ears to the sounds of words because sounds matter. Poetry reminds us through the use of effective devices that language is alive. Stylistic devices such as alliteration, assonance and onomatopeia brighten language.
Here’s a famous example of onomatopeia – Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Bells?
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells,bells, bells, bells,..
I believe poetry infuses our life with beauty and meaning. I believe poets are magicians. They can take the most complex of issues or situations and simplify it into a concise message.
In her Nobel lecture “The Poet and The World” Wislawa Szymborska writes:
The world — whatever we might think when terrified by its vastness and our own impotence … is astonishing …
Granted, in daily speech, where we don’t stop to consider every word, we all use phrases like “the ordinary world,” “ordinary life,” “the ordinary course of events” … But in the language of poetry, where every word is weighed, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it. And above all, not a single existence, not anyone’s existence in this world.
Do you read poetry? What do you believe are the benefits to reading poetry?