I never knew a childhood friend who could resist the hypnotic power of a good poem, especially if it was also colorfully illustrated—but I do remember hearing the older kids say that poetry was for sissies.
It was years before it began to dawn on me that much of the appeal of the heavy metal music those tough kids loved was the lyrics, and that those lyrics were poetry. Then I wanted to say, “You know, don’t you, that the Crazy Train your boy Ozzy is singing about is not a literal train, right?” Remove the poetry from rock ’n’ roll or rap or State of the Union speeches or Sunday sermons or your own love letters, and you render them all powerless. Poetry is so powerful—so dangerous—that one of the first things dictators do when they take power is arrest the poets. They know they’ll never have enough stormtroopers to combat the power of one righteous poet.
The Bible relies on poetry. Turns out, it’s the only language adequate for talking about a holy God or our own inner life. Those revolutionary characters, that the Greeks called “poets” and the Hebrews called “prophets,” were people who could not only see that the emperor had no clothes, they also had the courage to say so. Nathan marched into the throne room armed with nothing but a parable and immobilized David in his own web of lies before the king even knew what was happening. Imagine the sheer nerve of that! To say nothing of the genius!
Glenis Redmond may be a delightful and gentle soul, but she is also a woman of immense power as a poet, teaching artist, and “imagination activist.” She is a Kennedy Center Teaching Artist who founded the first Greenville Poetry Slam and the Peace Center’s educational outreach program Peace Voices. She has received too many accolades to list here. Suffice it to say, she is a Greenvillian who has made her art a gift to Greenville. This Wednesday night, we will be honored to have her as our guest at MidWeek Fellowship as we continue to hear from voices “Outside These Walls.”
Now I know that the people who think poetry is for sissies are simply afraid of having their eyes opened, their minds changed or their hearts moved. If you’re a sissy, don’t worry; the rest of us will be there to hold your hand! I, for one, can’t wait to ask Glenis to help me see—with a keener insight and a heightened perception—the more-than-literal meaning of the world!