An exciting chapter is opening in my life. I am scheduled to facilitate a workshop-style course with ElderCollege in the Comox Valley of beautiful British Columbia. All things being considered, this is a great time for me to reflect on how I view poetry as a medium of communication.
As children, we learn about the five senses – we hear, see, smell, touch, and taste. Poetry captures the essence of these senses and brings them into distinct, clear focus. Not all at once. Each of our senses is a vehicle to expression and each of us communicates uniquely, in our own way, through our own understanding of life events.
This is illustrated in the story of Helen Keller who was unable to communicate after a childhood illness left her deaf and blind. The year was 1882, and Helen’s inability to communicate literally nearly drove her mad; her inability to be understood turned her into an unruly, undisciplined child. Finally, her teacher Anne Sullivan, placed Helen’s hands under running water and simultaneously wrote “W, A, T, E, R” on her palm, creating for Helen a connection between the object (water) and its definition. While Helen could not see or hear, Anne Sullivan’s teaching enabled her to communicate through her sense of touch. Like a light switch illuminates a dark room.
For me, this story, this connection between awareness and sensitivity, is poetry. My objective is to have us accentuate our individual senses in order to communicate through poetry. What is the language we use? We could say the language is poetry.
Cecilia Cutler (Hutchinson) September 2017