Activity that immerse the mind is often identified as providing an opportunity for living in the moment. This sounds ideal—of course, the only piece of time that we can absolutely influence or tangibly experience is the one happening just now. Participation in art can be cited as an opportunity to live in the moment. When I write a poem I am not devoting conscious energy to any time but the present: putting words on the page. As I read a good book I am not thinking of my past or my future. However, I would not have developed the taste and skills that allow me to be immersed in that experience without my past, and I would never have started reading the book were I not looking toward a future version of myself when I began the act of reading.
I am inclined to say that poetry does not truly allow one to “live in the moment.” Poetry comes from a writer whose art is influence by his or her personal past and future, and is influenced by that individual’s position in the trajectory of history on every level.
In the context of our conversation last week about the political nature of poetry, I find it interesting that the basic skills that make up poetry are determined by the individual’s personal position in time. If an individual has the ability to write, he or she lives in a society that records by making markings on paper, and that he or she had the opportunity to be educated to write. The socio-political climate in which an individual creates or reads poetry influences factors like vocabulary and the way that poetry is presented to the public (or not). Rather than being a way to transcend tethers to the progression of time, poetry is, in part, a reflection of a particular place in time.