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The Mind Of A Poet
By Stan Grimes
June, 2007, 11:59

Poets have a special ability to capture life much like a camera lens does.
How does a poet's mind work? Who knows? I suppose if you would go to a neurologist specializing in brain activity, she might be able to give you an idea about what section of the brain is gyrating the most when a poet is striking a pose, or experiencing the muse. Otherwise, it's a question that requires a poet's exposition of his essence of thought. I can only offer a highly subjective guess gleaned from my own thoughts and my own experience in writing poetry.
Many years ago I worked on the railroad in a railroad city. I was working on the night shift with a friend of mine. After work, we decided to go to a friend's house for a beer or two. We decided to walk there. It was after midnight when we trudged across a footbridge overlooking twelve or so train tracks. My buddy stopped and looked across the tracks and said, "That's my hometown; isn't it beautiful?" in itself beautifully poetic. I nodded in agreement. He didn't ask what I saw while looking across the tracks with partially lit houses and street lights burning orange. If he had asked, I would have said, "I see a poor city seething with drug pushers and pimps. With the Eagles singing I Can't Tell You Why in the background on someone's radio from an open window." I thought to myself, "The world is changing and so am I."

It was a moment in time. To my friend it was his beautiful town. To me it was a moment of clarity, perhaps a revelation of sorts, or a camera shutter moment. Brief as it was, it spoke to me in volumes of emotion. I wrote about it. The poem suffered the carnage of divorce and loss, but I will never forget the feelings evoked on that dark and sweltering night.

The stigma of a poet, well, you have heard them all, alcoholics, products of broken homes, depressed personalities, mad, moody, overly sensitive, reclusive, and many other less-than-pleasant descriptions. All of those descriptions just might be true, but then again they hold true for truck drivers, doctors, lawyers, and short order cooks too. So, just what is inside the minds of poets? It's a difficult question.

The fact is a poet is like a photographer. However, instead of capturing a piece of life through a camera lens, poets are able to capture that same piece of life with words. A fascinating difference between a photographer and a poet is a photographer's picture is able to evoke emotions without words. The poet, however, has the daunting task of trying to evoke emotions with words. That, my friends, is not an easy assignment. The photographer can capture the small veins of a beautiful green leaf. A poet tries to describe those same veins without a picture. It is their task to paint a picture with only words.

If you are a seasoned poet, a new poet, or a reader of poetry, try if you can to compartmentalize a memory, picture frame a thought, paint five seconds of emotion, or describe what you see in this tunnel of life. Easy? No. A poet contemplates the world around her, a Zen moment more-or-less.

I do not try to turn poets into some kind of icon to be worshipped, to the contrary. Poets are like anyone else yet they do seem to have a very keen sense of their surroundings. They are able to look at moments and thoughts in poetic terms. They are able to look at a daisy and see a sunrise. They can take a downpour of rain and turn it into an apocalyptic experience. You, my poet friends have a talent, it's hidden sometimes deep inside where flowers dare not sprout and even the closest of friends dare not seek refuge.

My conclusion, a poet's mind is inexplicable, yet very explicable. It is cryptic, yet very clear. Perhaps the best word to describe a poet is enigmatic enigmatic yet reachable. Are you a poet? Be proud my friends. You are the cream of the literary crop. You are the philosophers of the writing world.
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Stan Grimes is a graduate from Indiana University and works in the real world as a social worker. He has written a number of articles for the American Chronicle and Useless-Knowledge.Com. Stan has published a number of poems and short stories in various anthologies and on his website at AuthorsDen. He has published three science fiction/suspense thriller novels. His latest, Deacon, can be found at Double Dragon Publishing Inc.

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