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Poems for Las Vegas: poetry in an unsafe world

In a class I attended recently, the teacher said we all have that one thing that wakes us up to a deeper relationship with our soul. Poetry is one of those things for me. Through words, I discover my relationship to the world and try to make sense of the chaos within and around me. But sometimes, words fail.

This happened when I first heard of the Las Vegas shooting earlier this month. No words. Some pain is too deep for language. But eventually, as we begin to absorb what has happened, our words return and we use them to find healing.

My local newspaper put a call out to area poets to help find words of healing. The poems are now available in a book, Poems for Las Vegas. All book royalties will go to the National Compassion Fund, established by Clark County, Nevada, and the National Center for Victims of Crime to assist the victims and families of those affected by the mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Recently, I read that in Chinese, the written character for poem is composed of two characters. One means word and the other means temple. Together they mean poem. The wisdom of poetry is in the combination of the sacred and the word as illustrated by the character in Chinese.

In Saved by a Poem, Kim Rosen shares the healing to be had from poetry by memorizing poems or parts of poems and taking them deep within ourselves, allowing the words to permeate our body, mind, and soul and begin their healing work. Maybe you’ve had this experience with a poem or a piece of prose. We can’t describe what is happening but we FEEL it.

Poetry, though it is technically “writing,” is not a logical left-brain stringing together of words but an impressionistic medium using images, metaphor, and other means to evoke emotions and bring us to a place both deeper within ourselves and to a place outside of ourselves. Some might call it the collective unconscious. I think it is this duality of poetry—the inner and outer healing that can happen—that appeals to me so much. I’ll discuss this more in a future post and share two of my favorite poems that lift me up when the world feels too unsafe—as it felt after the Las Vegas massacre.

If you’d like to contribute to the Las Vegas fund and receive some words of healing in the process, “Poems for Las Vegas” is available through Kitsap Publishing. I would appreciate it if you could please share the link.



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