Interviewed by Lisa Vihos, November 21, 2015
Does poetry have the potential to create change? Yes. I know this because poetry has changed me. Rilke has changed me. Rumi has changed me. Issa has changed me. All transformation begins within the individual – the outer world only appears to change when our inner perceptions shift. Say you read a poem about lightning striking a tree, and it changes you: suddenly you’ve grown intimately aware of the path between earth and sky. You’ve seen the light branching, felt your skin tingle, breathed in the ozone, heard the crash of thunder in your chest. In the following days, weeks, months . . . you begin to see the connection between all things. Does poetry have to create change? No. Change is the only constant. Change is the effortless current. Change is always present. Poetry merely has to remain transparent for it to inspire personal transformation. Everything else is always as it should be: multidimensional, abundant, whole. Poetry simply reminds us of the center of things, the pivot point from which our entire world shifts, personally and collectively.
Brent Goodman writes haiku and poetry and lives in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.
“Wisconsin Poetry Activists” is a flash interview series by Lisa Vihos, which grew out of research that she conducted for an article in Wisconsin People & Ideas, Turning on the Lights, Spring 2016.