Friday, June 25, 2010

Poetry Friday: The Haven of Words

I have been reading Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's book, Creativity: flow and the psychology of discovery and invention. In it, Dr. Csikszentmihalyi discusses Creativity (with a capital C): the sort that changes the world. He's not interested in personal creativity, rather the type that creates memes that spread new ideas and concepts from person to person, generation to generation. The type that changes the world.

In Creativity, Dr. Csikszentmihalyi reflects on a series of interviews with world-changing creatives and innovators. They provide a wealth of insight into their personal creative processes (the ultimate window of insight).

One of the people interviewed was Hilde Domin, a Jewish German poet who lived in exile for three decades with her husband. Forced to move from place to place, learn new languages and customs, it was not until she was free to return to Germany that she discovered the poetry within her.

In her interview, she says, "One evening, [following the death of her mother] I started writing a poem. I didn't have the idea that I wrote, but I started. It happened to me. Like, you know, falling in love. Or like being run over by a car. It happened. I had the language and I needed writing, so I wrote." (p. 244 of Creativity)

Dr. Csikszentmihalyi explains further, "This flight into a world of symbols saves the writer from the unbearable reality where experience is raw and unmediated. When painful experience is put into words, the poet is relieved of some of her burden." (p. 245)

The power of poetry is an extraordinary thing. It rescues the poet from events that could be life-shattering. At the same time, readers of the poem are provided with a window into the poet's soul, into the rough emotion found there. (See a nice reflection on the power of poetry by Simon C. Larter.)

The original poems are in German, but Elke Heckel and Meg Taylor have translated them into English. One of my favorites:
The Golden Rope
Nothing is as fleeting
as an encounter.

We play like children
we invite and reject
as if we had forever.
(read the rest of the poem)

What's your favorite poem? How does it affect you?

Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Amy Graves at The Art of Irreverence.

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Joined the Creativity Challenge, yet?  Last day to post your work is June 30. New word prompts will be up at the beginning of July.


  1. Alison, thanks for this thoughtful post about poetry's powerful role as rescuer and connector, and for the link to Simon's blog, which I had not seen before.

  2. Domin writes powerful poetry - thank you for posting her work! Best of luck with your creative journey.

  3. Thanks, Toby and Tabatha. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Nice post about Poetry Friday: The Haven of Words for all creative children, it helps a lot in how to guide our child's in their creativity stage. hope to see more soon, Thanks!