For Poetry Month: Meaning and Pleasure featuring Michael Dickel and Myra Schneider

It’s great to get a poem or story published. It’s about income and getting read and for some it’s validation as well. These are all important (even vital), but I was reminded recently that our poetry and other writing is about so much more.

In the introduction to the March issue of The BeZine, themed Science in Culture, Politics and ReligionContributing Editor Michael Dickel wrote:

American-Israeli Poet, Michael Dickel

“The title of David Cooper’s book on Kabbalah invites us to re-think the Creator as Creating: God is a Verb. While I don’t want to equate science to God in a religious sense, I want to borrow this re-conception. Science is creative, creating, if you will, knowledge of the world. Science is a verb.”

Jamie Dedes

A friend of mine came to visit and glowed when she told me she’d read Michael’s introduction. God is a Verb and Science is a verb popped out at her. Something she’d been struggling with suddenly fell into place. Other company arrived and I wasn’t able to get further explanation. I’m pleased but not surprised with her reaction to Michael’s piece. It demonstrates the power of words to bring joy, clarification and healing.

My own recent experience: a few people commenting or emailing me saying my post here – not with a bang but a whimper – helped release needed tears.

On another occasion a woman in Scotland wrote to say she’d read my poem – Wabi Sabi – to her wabi sabi group.  They found it inspiring. Wow! While I do need my payments, it’s this sort of thing – this human connection – that is satisfying right down to the marrow of my bones.

Poetry is also important as an entry point into sacred space for both artist and audience.  This is motivation for everyone to practice their art, whether professionally or as amateur, which is not a pejorative. I’m sure many of you – if not all of you – know what I mean.  There’s a shift that happens. Sometimes it feels more like channeling than writing. The experience is illuminating, healing and peaceful. An unexpected insight often arrives just when you need it.

Our job as poets and writers goes even further: we bear witness, we give voice to the voiceless, and we observe and commemorate.

English Poet Myra Schneider at her 80th Birthday celebration and the launch of her 12th collection

Myra Schneider said in an interview HERE, that “I believe the role of the poet is to reflect on human experience and the world we live in and to articulate it for oneself and others. Many people who suffer a loss or go through a trauma feel a need for poetry to give voice to their grief and to support them through a difficult time. When an atrocity is committed poems are a potent way of expressing shock and anger, also of bearing witness. I think that the poet can write forcefully, using a different approach from a journalist, about subjects such as climate change, violence, abuse and mental illness and that this is meaningful to others. I very much believe too that poetry is a way of celebrating life. I think it deserves a central place in our world.”

So, as we celebrate poetry this month, be sure to give yourself time to read and write … for the sake of your spirit and for the rest of us too.

Please join us at The BeZine on April 15th for our special interNational poetry issue. Michael Dickel is the lead editor.

© Each of the personal photographs belongs to the poet pictured, all rights reserved.

15 thoughts on “For Poetry Month: Meaning and Pleasure featuring Michael Dickel and Myra Schneider

  1. When my sister & I were in a car crash in Nebraska, she was killed. My dad, back in California, spent the night with a tumbler of Jack Daniels and a book of poetry. Wordsworth’s “We Are Seven” (there were 7 in our family) was the one that helped him grieve, another sister reported.

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        1. That would be a good thing too. Poetry and faith tend to stand and stay. I can sympathize with cuddling up to Jack, but that doesn’t last. I’m glad too that you have the memory of his reading poetry, as lovely as it can be under such tragic circumstances.

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        2. Even though I didn’t see it, because I was still in Nebraska, the way my sister observed him and reported it was an intimate moment I like to picture because my father rarely showed such private emotions. That night was my brother’s 6th birthday. I can only imagine what went on at their end of the situation, but that my father would reach for a book seems very normal.

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  2. Sometimes poets take the bull by the horns to accomplish a task. Other times they just throw the bull around. Either way, poets stir their views into the pot. All want their words to be heard and tasted.

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      1. Volunteering in hospitals, struggling with ailments, moving one step at a time, and always taunting the undertaker. Got a few more stories and poems to tell before I declare, “Game over!”, time to go home.

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  3. Well Foucault explains in ‘The Origin of Things’ that to be, the verb, is the point at which man goes from onomatopoeic grunts to representing with language. But then in The White Goddess Robert Graves postulates that gods came from a secret name, which was tied to the alphabet & that it was vowels, which constituted this holy name, Yahweh was according to Graves Aeiou. i ain’t saying he is right, but at least from these two men we can deduce that gods/God is tied up in language.

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    1. Thank you, Daniel, for sharing these interesting perspectives. God is a Verb is a book—I couldn’t begin to do justice to it in a comment, but I could see that it would be interesting to read it through Foucault (or vice verse).

      The problems I see with equating Yahweh to aeiou are mutliple — these are vowels in English. Hebrew does not have vowels. Other languages have other vowels, in addition. However, I have heard something related, that the pronunciation of  יהוה (letters that approximate or carry vowel sounds) is that of breath (I’ve heard all combinations — exhale, inhale, both in both possible orders). It is all interesting.

      The idea of linking God to secret names in letters occurs in Kabbalah and likely other mystical systems. There is a system of permuting letters, associated with specific lines in the Torah (Exodus 14:19-21), that is believed to reveal the 72 (secret) names of Yahweh. (A poem I wrote for Purim that also runs in the March issue references this — Purim Fibonacci).

      All of this is beyond my knowledge. Science and mysticism are separate systems for approximating an understanding of the world / universe — Creation. Creation, and Creator, remain ineffable. So we can only approximate. And I, at best, only approximate an understanding of these systems of approximation. Yet, Moses tells us that the “truth” is proximal—in our mouths and our hearts. No need, he says, to send people over the seas or up to the skies.

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        1. I don’t know Arabic. Yahweh, also called the Tetragrammaton, יהוה is one of God’s names in Torah, but the one that isn’t spoken in prayers. Many won’t write it, either—both speaking and writing banned for fear of taking the Name in vane. It was supposedly only spoken by the High Priest on Yom Kippur and its pronunciation kept secret. Yahweh is a phonetic representation of the Hebrew letters, not the “hidden” pronunciation.

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      1. Hello Michael. i hope you don’t think i was setting anything in stone. Graves’ book is highly contestable & i read it many years ago. i think he was moving from the inception of alphabets & focused on the Gaelic, but i think he mentions something like what you explain about Hebrew. i think his position is that the evolution of alphabets was around this secret name of gods/God idea, in which the secret was the source of mystery cults & thus the importance of religion. i should really find the book out. As contestable i am sure it is (i am no scholar & have a bad memory) i do think it should have been investigated more by scholars, The White Goddess i mean, which it wasn’t & Graves was quite disappointed about— i think he would have accepted, embraced even, a little help & extra insight on the subject, which he spent ample time researching (& him just a poet, which he acquiesces too).
        My reason for outlining Foucault & Graves is that the former see the verb as the beginning of intelligent conversation & the the latter finds vowels to be the secret name of God, & this seems to circumscribe the issue of God as verb.
        If God is a verb, what sort of existence does this give God outside of language? i am not religious, though i find the existence of religion oddly fascinating, so you do not have to concern yourself with upsetting my beliefs, if this helps you to answer my question.

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