Why poetry still matters — and is more powerful than you think

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Grasping the untouchable and saying the unspeakable, with poet David Whyte. Photo by Nicol Ragland.

The art of the poem is the ability to interpret the unspeakable or untouchable through language, in which verses are made memorable by their rhythm and simple, evocative imagery. Poetry can astonish, move, and surprise us. Emily Dickinson once said, “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.” 

Poet and philosopher David Whyte has centered much of his work around the idea of "the conversational nature of reality,” drawing from both this personal experiences and his love of nature and walking. Whyte has authored numerous books and collections, including “The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America,” “The Bell and the Blackbird,” “Essentials,” and “The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship.”  His latest collection of poems, titled “Still Possible,” is due out in December. 

Host Jonathan Bastian talks with Whyte about his childhood growing up in England and the influence of his Irish Catholic mother and Yorkshire father. Whyte shares some of his new poems — committed to memory, like more than 300 of his other poems — with words that resonate powerfully, spoken with pauses and repetitions, melody and melancholy. Great poems, Whyte says, “are not about experience, but are the experience itself, felt in the body.”

An enthusiast and extensive traveller, much of Whyte’s work chronicles a close relationship to landscapes and histories. Inspired by the works of Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, and Pablo Neruda, Whyte shares his thoughts and the influences of late Irish philosopher John O'Donohue and Zen Master Dogan Zenji, on religion, spirituality, marriage, and death. 


David Whyte and his book of poetry "Still Possible." Photo by Bodi Hallett.

Find more information on David Whyte's current three session virtual seminar here.

Credits

Guest:

  • David Whyte - Poet, philosopher and inspirational speaker

Producer:

Andrea Brody