On Feeling

I first want to talk about what Audre Lorde might think of an image and want to relate it back to Ezra Pound’s idea of an image as an emotional complex. In the essay, “Poetry Is Not a Luxury*,” Lorde follows this thread by stating that “it is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are – until the poem – nameless and formless, about to be birthed, but already felt.” This thought is predicated on the fact that women poets need poetry as a means to survive, “it is vital to our existence,” she states.

Our emotions, “and the honest exploration of them become sanctuaries and spawning grounds for the most radical and daring of ideas.” I find this particularly interesting as someone who tries to do this through my own poetry. It’s difficult though. In my last poem, “Unfolded,” I tried to talk about how my feelings were too close for comfort. In feedback Lytton gave me, I was told to remember that these feelings are things that other people feel as well. So it sets the stage for what my poetry intends to do. It wants to give meaning to the sentiment that I feel so that others may have clarity on the issue as well. I’ve seen this happen within my own poetry.

I wanted to mention this because before this semester, I never thought of myself as a poet. It seemed like uncharted territory to me. But Lorde reminds me that “We can train ourselves to respect our feelings and to transpose them into a language so they can be shared.” That’s what I’ve been learning this semester. How to translate my emotional complexes into images… “the quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives.”

The essay, which I think you should all read, reminds me that feeling what I feel is a means to freedom. She states “the poet whispers in our dreams: I feel, therefore I can be free.” Moreover, Lorde ends the essay by asking us to tell what we feel despite these feelings being “old” or “repetitive,” “while we suffer the old longings, battle the old warning and fears of being silent and impotent and alone, while we taste new possibilities and strengths.”

One Reply to “On Feeling”

  1. Thanks for sharing, Emily, I really enjoyed Lorde’s essay! Especially the idea of there not being new ideas but only new ways of making them felt.

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