Here are some of the nature pictures I've taken:
I could describe to you a million other ways in which I am a visual person - from how I keep my room, or arrange my food on a plate, or create graphic designs and websites. But I won't, because you get the picture. And because I've realized that actually, I'm not as visually-oriented as I once thought.
I discovered poetry a year or two after I became a photographer, and many, many years after I fell in love with reading. Something about poetry was different for me - I didn't like reading it as much as I liked listening to it. At first that startled me. Since when was I more hearing-oriented than visual? But I've since learned some cool things about it.
First, hearing and seeing are quite similar in the purpose they serve. I'm taking a class called Poetry & Theology with Kevin Hart, and today in class we grouped the five senses into two distinct groups. The first group, called "The Theoretical Senses", consists of 'seeing' and 'hearing'. The Theoretical Senses help us gain knowledge. The second group, called "The Non-Theoretical Senses," consists of the remaining three: 'smelling', 'tasting', 'touching'. These senses help us gain experience. Thus, in technical terms, seeing and hearing are both ways of gaining knowledge, not experience.
But poetry gives me both knowledge and an eye-opening experience. For every Poem-A-Day, I listen before I read (or as I read), and if no audio is provided, I search for it - or read it out loud myself. In the case of Jamaal May's "I Have This Way of Being", there most certainly was an audio link! I think I prefer to listen to poetry because it helps me to get at the root of a poem better. Like you said in class today, Rita, you love to listen to each of us read our poems out loud because it clears up lingering confusion and allows new ideas to pop into your head.
This specific poem goes well with everything I've said so far. It's a very visual poem, but one that sounds better (to me) in the author's voice. Further, it is an experiential poem. It touches on all five senses (smell, because flowers always evoke the idea of smelling them; taste, when the author swallows "a lung full of air" you can nearly taste the soil-scented air; touch, in his gloves filling with "sweat", the "trowel in his hand" that "pushes against", and more; sight, in the colors of weeds, "yellow then white then windswept"; and finally, sound, in the way his mouth isn't "full of the names of odd flowers" but how you can hear those names anyway). And although I obviously didn't smell or taste the poem, I was able to both understand and experience; allowing me to use both Theoretical and Non-Theoretical Senses.
Another effective, thought-provoking technique is the way in which the poet breaks up lines. One such line goes "full of the names of odd flowers/I’ve grown in secret." By putting 'I've grown in secret' on its own line, and at the start of a new stanza even, the poet makes me think about the line on its own: "I've grown in secret".
This poem allowed me to experience all five senses in reading it and in listening to it. It opened my mind, allowing me to put myself in the context of "being", to think what significance that could carry.
Like I said in the beginning, I'm drawn to the visuals of nature. But I'm drawn to the sound of it too - in the poems I write and the poems I read. Jamaal May's "I Have This Way Of Being" gave me a taste (or a sound, or a sight) of that.