I was most gratified last week to discover the following, giving me some validation for my believe in poetry based on the body and sensate experience as spiritual as well as corporeal; I will be using this in my next Sunfire Writers Workshop at Fremont Correction Facility.
“The poet writes the history of his own body.” Thoreau
American poet Walt Whitman, was a nurse in the civil war. I quote from the book, Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer
“For Walt Whitman, the Civil War was about the body. The crime of the Confederacy, Whitman believed, was treating Blacks as nothing but flesh, selling and buying them like pieces of meat. Whitman’s revelation, which he had for the first time at a New Orleans slave auction, was the body and mind are inseparable. To whip a man’s body is to whip a man’s soul.
“This is Whitman’s central poetic idea. We do not have a body, we are a body, Although our feelings feel immaterial, they actually begin in the flesh. Whitman introduces his only book of poems, Leaves of Grass, by imbuing his skin with his spirit, “the aroma of my armpits finer than prayer.”
/strong>Was somebody asking to see the soul?
See, your own shape and countenance. . .
Behold, the body includes and is the meaning, the main
Concern, and includes, and is the soul.
“Whitman’s fusion of body and soul was a revolutionary idea, as radical as his free-verse form. At the time, (Civil War era) scientists believed that our feelings came from the brain and that the body was just a lump of inert matter. But Whitman believed that our mind depended upon the flesh. He was determined to write about our “form complete.”
“This is what makes his poetry so urgent: the attempt to wring “beauty out of sweat,” the metaphysical soul out of fat and skin.”
Many times I have said, Poetry is a full body experience. Body, Mind Spirit. Poetry is how our feelings talk in images and we share those words with family, friends, and others.
DISCUSSION: then Your experience?