Some of you may ask yourselves why I post haiku (with apologies to Basho), on a professional intercultural page like this. Poet Mike Essig says it very well, and, in the poem linked below, you could easily replace his opening word "history" with "culture".
History without poetry only information.
Empty symbols made by time meaningless.
Events reduced to content. People as cyphers.
All the horny sweat and sarcasm lost.
Flaccid telling of impotent tales.
Beauty recoils into mundane stuff.
We want to know more than merely that.
How did it feel? What was it like?
No point to a man or woman without qualities.
But in poetry a breathing, personal panoply.
Poets make each foggy day past clear.
Alive and awake to the glorious human.
Deliver the vital past to the living ear.
It's often been said that "history is written by the winners". Unfortunately, culture is also propagated by the so-called winners or by the wannabe winners, by those who possess a bully pulpit or the political or economic means to shout identity slogans the loudest, most often, and for the longest time, making them the static components of metanarratives that require observant and insightful poets to challenge.
The origin of the word poet (ποίησις) is the action of bringing into being something that did not exist before. Realizing and reifying the imaginary is not limited to written words or songs sung brazenly. In previous posts, I noted my passion for the work of the late Leonard Cohen, singer and, yes, poet in his lyrics. There are many other arts which challenge the status quo and the limits and definitions of self imposed by verbal monopolies and monopolitics.
Dictators dictate and expect those with pens and keyboards and loudspeakers to take dictation to shape and echo their desired culture. All good art is obscene, in the sense that it strips away this deliberate costuming allowing us to view with fresh perspective the naked realities it reveals. When we say, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," it should not be understood as dismissive of someone's aesthetic experience, but rather as pointing to a human creative act inviting us to see the real and the possible with each other's eyes. Culture is performative as well as expressive. How we live and act and speak makes us who we are. Poetry signposts fresh directions.