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poetry word in mixed vintage metal type printing blocks over grunge wood

There once was a man from Nantucket…

OK, so that’s the start of an infamous limerick. Not quite poetry per se, but there’s the rub. I have not really been exposed to poetry (the art form) enough to know what I’m talking about, let alone form a worthwhile opinion.

My cousin published an anthology of his poems a few years back that I enjoyed reading. He’s a gifted writer married to an even more gifted one (don’t tell him I said that) and was even the editor of a highly respected though less than successful literary magazine north of the border. I liked how I felt when reading his poems, not that they were all smiles and warm hugs. But they immediately transported me somewhere else much like a movie trailer does without the commitment required to get past the first chapter of a book to do the same. It wasn’t so much a specific time and place or alternate reality, but the immediacy of stepping into the emotional vividness of something new. I was slipping into the soul of someone else’s moment courtesy of the words they had chosen to evoke that sensation. Therein lies the power and beauty of poetry, I’m instantly spellbound with just a few words. To me, stories paint a roomy universe to leisurely explore while poems grab hold of your feelings from the start. Good ones down to the quick.

Song lyrics would be the closest semi-poetic form of verse I know well. Not that all lyrics are poetic, nor song writers poets. Bob Dylan, yes. Jim Morrison, yes. Bono, yes. Fred Durst, probably not. But one song writer/lyricist that creates a similar emotional connection to what I was referring to above about my cousin’s poems within the first few lines of a song is Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips. Granted the band goes off every other album or so on extravagant soundscape explorations, but between those creative sojourns they do write some incredibly poetic songs that also revel in the emotions of a particular moment or realization.

Here are a few selections to perhaps enjoy lyrically first and then in the full context of the band’s musical creation:

“Do You Realize” by the Flaming Lips from Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002).

Do you realize that you have the most beautiful face
Do you realize we’re floating in space,
Do you realize that happiness makes you cry
Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes, let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round


Another is “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate” from The Soft Bulletin (1999).

In our life
Is just too valuable
Oh, to feel
For even a second
Without it

But life
Without death
Is just impossible
Oh, to realize
Something is ending
Within us

Feeling yourself disintegrate
Feeling yourself disintegrate
Feeling yourself disintegrate
Feeling yourself disintegrate

Their latest album, American Head (2020) rekindles much of the same personal exploration as these two classics from twenty years ago, though anchored in the emotions of early adolescence and those nascent feelings and fears during the 1970s. So, if our IDEASOn…blogs this month get you interested in sitting down with a good book of poems, you just might consider putting some Flaming Lips on the stereo to enjoy with it.


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Duncan has 20+ years experience designing and producing digital media, signature events, and destination experiences for clients.