Poetry Makes Nothing Happen, Thankfully.

If not for anything else, this unimposing stance of poetry alone makes it extremely relevant today. I like the way poetry distances itself - like disobedient strands of hair - from the constant urges of our world to make things happen. It seems to have no inbuilt need to convince, to transform, to convert, to turn around, to entertain, to earn or to win over. Even in the uppercase, poetry carries within it an inherent lowercaseness; a being there without intruding; a standing aside sans the aloofness; an indulgent smile that resides in the intense scream. This immeasurable nature of poetry, though often a haven for mediocrity, is also its greatest strength. The very fact that editors distrust poetry and publishers feel like strangers caught in thick evening mist when confronted by poetry is possible proof that there is something innately true about it.

Again, in spite of the marketing insights, innovative distribution strategies or even the public reading sessions, poetry has never raked in the money like fiction. Creative writing courses haven’t yet designed fail-proof templates for poetry. Neither have the pharaohs of publishing figured out what makes poetry work, not realizing that ‘working’ is not the predominant concern of poetry. Poetry thus remains threateningly at large in our society. Like an escaped circus lion that cleverly eludes the traps set for it, it appears at unexpected street corners at odd hours, startling onlookers before walking away quietly into the alleys of the night.

Finally, the very poem where Auden sighs that poetry makes nothing happen does make things happen within us. Perhaps one could say that a poem is a different kind of happening altogether. So here’s to all those who carry this curious happening inside them. Here’s to the ones who are called to live strangely bewildered lives in an arrogantly self-assured world.

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