Poetry is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as 1) metrical writing, 2) the productions of a poet and 3) something likened to poetry especially in beauty of expression; but for me, poetry is almost intangible and it’s hard to define. So as I sit here trying to gather words that can reflect my understanding of its meaning, I struggle, because its so much more than metrical writing or verse – so much more than the productions of a poet. It is beauty, and healing, yet it can also be ugliness and disease – but it is always that which moves the unseen parts of me in ways that are difficult to measure. It is therapeutic and motivational; informative and self-indulgent; soothing and soul-stirring.
Poets are often portrayed as finger-snapping, all-black-wearing, flighty eccentrics that haunt coffee houses and speak in spoken-word rhythms, but when I imagine what society would be like without the voices of poets like Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes, a feel a chill of apprehension across the back of my neck.
There is a verse in the Holy Quran that when translated (Yusuf Ali Translation) reads in Surah As Shams 91:7-10:
By the soul and the proportion and order given to it; and its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right;-truly he succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it!
Writing can be a reflection of the soul, and just as we need to nourish our bodies to live, we need to nourish our souls to live. Poetry, to me, has the potential to be that which nurtures the unseen self – to be that which helps us to keep ourselves clean and whole – to be that which helps to make us better individuals.
With that said, I write poetry as an exercise to improve myself and I pray that, if it is the will of Allah (SWT), that others may be improved, inspired or touched in a positive way by it.
The following poem is from the forthcoming collection that I hope to publish at the end of the year entitled, Luminous. The title is tentative and I chose it as a reminder to self, and to anyone else inclined, to always seek to light up the darkness.
Peace and blessings!
When the land is barren
We plant trees for the harvesting of souls
To replenish that which has been decimated
To heal that which has been corrupted
Because injustice poisons the earth
So much blood has been spilled-
How long, we cry!
The conflict of Cain and Abel remains
Pricks at the conscience of humanity
Still we wait
For the promise of Allah is true
And although we’ve wandered through dry places for so, so long, there is relief
And the fountains of knowledge are a deliverance
The tender leaves of an olive tree contain so much potential: oil, fruit, life, peace
The gentle touch of a medicine man
Can heal a wounded spirit
What can we do, you ask?
Sow seeds of mercy
Sow that which will sustain life
To reap a harvest deserving of the pleasure of Our Lord
If Allah so permits
The pill may sometimes be bitter and difficult to swallow
But if the life of your child
Of your child’s child – your grandchild
The lives of your family depends upon your willingness to sacrifice – would you not?
Sweetness comes from grace
And sometimes perseverance
Because scar tissue is a thicker, tougher, layer
I allow my heartache to move me forward
And I pray for better days
For a better Time
A New Earth
A New Heaven
When justice rules the land
When children laugh with joy, unhindered by this world’s strife
When mothers can hold their children’s hands without fear
When fathers can rest securely, knowing that their families are safe
When wife and husband can enjoy the pleasure of an embrace in peace
When a garden blooms in fertile land overcrowded by trees
And Life is full
Copyright © 2014 by Janette Grant
Publications featuring more of my poetry: