On Saturday, Nov. 5, at 3 p.m., poet and instructor for The Mill: A Place for Writers Karla Huston will present a lecture on poetry. The lecture is free and open to the public through the generosity of the Neenah Public Library.

Karla 2Why Poetry Matters

So what’s all the fuss about poultry? Those chickens work hard enough pluck-plucking at the bugs in the lawn. We need more poultry, not less! Those brown speckled eggs, those pretty, red hens! Lets hear it for—What?  Oh. Poetry? Well that’s different! Nevermind!!

Dear Miss Emily Litella: at one time, poetry was an essential part of life.  Folks went to readings, attended lectures, found poems in their newspapers, memorized poems in schools, wrote them. My grandfather was the class poet of the graduating class of Bangor High School—1906.

I believe in the power of poetry. I subscribe to this quotation by William Carlos Williams, who said, “It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.”

Poetry functions to keep language alive. It makes you a better writer. Poets work to find the best words for their poems, and when all else fails, invent their own (Lewis Carroll’s “The Jabberwocky”).

If you write poetry, anything else you write will be better. Your ear will be trained to hear the words you need, and poetic devices will wiggle into your rhetoric—alliteration, assonance, hyperbole. You’ll find yourself using simile, anaphora. And the world will be a better place!

Reading poetry slows you. As a reader, you’re asked to attend to poetry in a different way, savoring words, slowing to pay attention.

Good poetry carries resonance. It reverberates through time and space. Think of Dylan Thomas’: “Do not go gentle into that good night” or Robert Frost’s “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” or “The Road Not Taken.” These poems touch us where we live; we remember them because we are human.

Poetry is art, and art gives back; art lets us know we will be okay. We have our homes, families, our jobs, careers. We have our losses, our troubles, our griefs, shared or alone. Art makes these things mean something.

“I think the mission of poetry is to create among people the possibility of wonder, admiration, enthusiasm, mystery—the sense that life is marvelous. When you say life is marvelous you are saying a banality. But to make life a marvel—that is the role of poetry.”  Octavio Paz

“If it ain’t a pleasure, it ain’t a poem.”  William Carlos Williams

Winner of a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Small Presses award in 2011, Karla Huston earned a master’s in English/creative writing from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. She is the author of a full collection of poems A Theory of Lipstick (Main Street Rag Publications: 2013) and seven chapbooks, most recently, Outside of a Dog (dancinggirlpress: 2013).

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