Random Conversations

Conversations in Verse

Conversations in Verse

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Poets for hire have appeared at NYC parks in ever greater numbers over the past few years. Curiosity prompted me to approach two of them.

I have been searching unsuccessfully for one specific poet since we briefly spoke at the end of last year. (I wrote about her here.) Lately, the idea of a custom poem keeps circling back into my thoughts. But what topic and for whom?

Erica – Union Square

Erica, Union Square, NYC

Inspiration arrived when I met Erica, a poet sitting behind her portable typewriter at Union Square. I told her I felt as though I was at a point of transition – something seemed to be ending and something new beginning. Could she write a poem that speaks to that?

For some unknown reason, she said she loved that topic for me and immediately started writing. As she typed, 7 or 8 people formed a line and patiently waited for their turn with her. Five or ten minutes later, she removed the paper from her typewriter and handed it to me.

Erica's poem started with a reference to the Death card in Tarot and goes on to say,

“Death as in the deck and as in life is an end but also a beginning.”

She weaves in a reference to winter giving way to spring, and ends the poem with,

“…so to find the spring, to find the new life, we must embrace with open arms the process of Death.”

I loved it!

Rose – Washington Square Park

Rose, Washington Square Park, NYC

A couple of weeks later I met another poet, Rose, at Washington Square Park and asked her to write a poem on the same topic. Rose writes her poems out by hand and she is the only one I have seen who does that.

She paused, looked up for a minute to get her thoughts together, and started to write.

“Like the phoenix I am dancing | charging | singing my way into the flame.”

She ends the poem with,

“I embrace the goodbye; I bloom from the mud.”

I loved this one even more!

Reflecting on Poetry

What is it about expressing a sentiment in verse that makes it special? It's easy to understand the allure of meter or rhyme, but what about free verse which has neither?

I believe that much of the power of verse comes from the intentional choice of words that will perfectly express the poet's intent. Poets are artists, painting with words.

In both poems written for me, metaphors were chosen that gave context and structure. The phoenix was a beautiful image for me.

Finally, writing verse comes from the heart, which affects both the writer and the recipient.

Moving Forward

There is a level of care that is taken when writing in verse that we often do not apply when we are in conversation. We can learn from that care.

“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words” – Robert Frost

Frost invites us to take a moment to pause and be intentional in our choice of words. First, we go into our heart to understand what we feel. Once we have identified those emotions, we can get our thoughts around them. And once we are clear, we can take care to choose the words that best express both.

How delicious is that?!

Rose’s Poem

Photos by the Author | Sadly, I have no contact information for Erica | Follow Rose on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/poemsforcowboys/

Cathy Joseph is the author of the Random Conversations blog and is currently seeking representation for her book, The Art of Having a Delicious Conversation.

© 2022 Cathy Joseph. All rights reserved.

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