#ArtistsVoicesRising & the Manna of Poetry

Beauty is a true human need.

In his seminal work, psychologist Marshall Rosenberg‘s Nonviolent Communication, aka Compassionate Communication, identifies beauty as a true human need. In these confusing times of enormous national and global changes, I find that need more keen than ever. War, unrest, poverty, hate are ugly. The eye, soul, spirit, heart, need the respite of beauty in art. Now, more than ever, we need art.

Yet, not all art is beautiful, and that is okay, of course. Art can also be a reflection of our times. A voice for the oppressed, a voice against the oppressors. I began seeing this pushback via all forms of art this fall as our recent national U.S. election. I coined a hashtag: #ArtistsVoicesRising

One of the bittersweet beauties of turbulent times is the proliferation of art in all forms. Not necessarily related to these political times. Nashville’s visual art scene has blossomed in the last 17 years. We have about SIX art crawls in various regions about town each month. Storytelling events occur weekly—an art form that burst onto our local scene and rapidly proliferated the last three years. Plus, poetry readings and writers’ workshops. Then there’s theater, (see addendum). And dance, plus new opportunities to dance expressively. Some of it is political. Some of it is pure, therapeutic expression of beauty.

On the home front, I take three tentative steps forward and two back in creating my own visual art. I have a small mixed media piece in this show next weekend. I’m still consumed with launching Grace into adulthood, but maybe winding down, yet facing a behemoth task of catching up after a year off on administrative tasks related to her own art.

But, this post is really to share my secret soul-manna: poetry. Sure, I continue to write poetry, as well. Some of I share here. Almost always it’s about nature and her seasons, but usually only in the winter and spring. Ye”t it is the usually slender volumes of poetry I stash for daily five-minute savoring. Their volumes nourish my world-weary heart. It’s become a thing for me amid the nonfiction I usually consume and the occasional novel.

This week, I finished Billy Collin‘s Aimless Love. Oops, I did not know about this former US poet laureate until I heard him read the most delectable poem on the new “Praire Home Companion.” (New host Chris Thile got off to a bit of an awkward start as Garrison Keillor‘s replacement, but has found his anchor and is doing swell.) And now that I’ve polished off Collin’s aforementioned collection, I’m nibbling Naomi Shihab Nye‘s what have you lost?

Do you love poetry, too? Who are your favorite poets? Do you believe in the need for beauty? Do you recognize art’s importance in times of change?


Addendum: As the long-standing artistic director of the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Denice Hicks is a local fixture in town. In this local NPR affiliate, WPLN.org, interview that aired this morning, she states theater is “social work.” Agreed.

Disclosure: LeisaHammett.com is an Amazon affiliate site. I may receive a few pennies if someone places an order through the linked sites to the aforementioned books. However, that is not my intent for mentioning them. 

4 Responses to #ArtistsVoicesRising & the Manna of Poetry

  1. Thanks for your lovely witness to the power of poetry, Leisa! I became addicted over a dozen years ago; being involved as reader, writer and listener has improved my life in so many ways. I love the work of Cecilia Woloch, Vandana Khanna, Ada Limon, Bobby Rogers (from west TN), Darnell Arnoult (east TN), Irene Latham, and from here in middle TN, Bill Brown, Jeff Hardin, Tiana Clark, TJ Jarrett, Christina Stoddard, Sandy Coomer, Destiny Birdsong, Matthew Leavitt Brown…oh the list goes on! And have you ever looked up David Whyte? You might like his work.

    Keep sharing that #poetrylove!

  2. Thanks for the recommendations, Kory! I almost felt guilting not mentioning local folks. I’ve read two, including my ol’ poetry professor, Jeff Daniel Marion, in the last few years. And, yes. I’ve found David Whyte. Good recommendations!