Disasters, Nature and Poetry – Mona Lisa Saloy

September 8, 2014

Poetry for me has been like early biology lessons of the salamander.  We’ve heard much lately about stem-cell research that may enable regeneration of human tissue. Such miracles have occurred in nature since the very beginning in the salamander. Salamanders, lizards, and other such creatures have the ability to regenerate limbs and other body parts. Actually, humans can as well. The very young have the ability to regrow a fingertip. Since I’m not a biologist, please do not ask me to define the process; but in de-differentiation, the cells become more like basic stem cells and can relearn what they need to regrow a fingertip. It is no wonder scientists are preoccupied with the possibilities of stem-cell research. My point here is regeneration, the human ability to start again after loss and trauma, to regrow, relearn, relive a good life. Through poetry, we don’t have to wait for scientists.

Through poetry, human beings can relive trauma, injury, catastrophe, whether it is physical, mental, or emotional, real or imagined, and reacquaint ourselves with our most inner resources, our ability to regenerate and manifest as whole again. Through poetry, we can better process our reactions to events, especially disasters, in the world, and react with a higher order of awareness. We don’t have to know what it takes to arrive at this new place, for poetry will assist us on our journey and deposit us safely, sometimes uncomfortably, in a new personal place of understanding. We can agree or disagree; we can remain in shallow waters or dive deeply. Through the experience in poetry, our inner vision is awakened.

It is through verse that we make some sense of our world. Poets are not just journalists snapping photos. Poetry weaves words to record not just what happens but what sense we can make of it, what is important for us to consider, what is good for us to keep.


Excerpted from Disasters, Nature and Poetry by Mona Lisa Saloy: Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry

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