As a fan of poetry, the one definite conclusion about this art form is that words matter and that words are alive. Writers and poets carry the imaginations of societies for ages and generations to come. This incredible and young poet, Vaughn Bergen, shared his poem An Infinite Dream (below) at the Andrew Freedman Home in the Bronx. I asked him some questions about poetry in relation to society.
How did you get into poetry?
When I was a boy, I was inspired to write poetry by my grandfather, Simon Perchik, who is currently the most widely published poet in America. I really enjoyed his work, and I loved going to poetry readings with him even at a very young age. I was drawn to that world almost instinctively and soon enough I was writing poems of my own.
Why is poetry important to society?
Poetry is one of the most under-appreciated art forms. All art is of great importance as it steers the direction of our attention as a species and helps to elevate our consciousness. Poetry does this in an emotive way perhaps most similar to music. However, unlike music, poetry does not need to be associated with a pleasant emotion, as its highest purpose is to confront us with the truth. This is a power where such emotions are welcomed but secondary to its greater purpose.
What role do poets have over who we are as people today?
Ultimately, I believe the role of poetry is to help bring about a world full of love and joy. However, we live in a world with seemingly infinite layers of illusion. Therefore the only way to achieve this is to face the truth head on and, by doing so, dissolve the ego in our mind and become more connected to the heart. The greatest poems dig deeper than the knife of a surgeon, which is very necessary since the ego will burrow itself within the illusions of the mind until there is nowhere left to go.
How can this art form help change and heal minds to make the world a better place?
The role of the poet as well as the reader is one of great courage. Through poetry one is given the opportunity to look deep within oneself and delve into the swamp of the soul in order to slowly dig out the muck. This is actually a very beautiful and healing practice, which if mastered, allows one to be filled with a pure sense of love and compassion or any other experience that the poem serves to evoke within the reader. But the greatest poems are only stepping-stones. The lessons must be applied in daily life. And as humanity evolves the role of the poet must evolve at a pace that is at least slightly faster in order to light the way for the readers.
Why should people read and write poetry?
The more people read and write poetry, the more power poetry has to transform our world. Unfortunately, in our society poetry has not been given the attention it deserves, it's worth somehow being overlooked. I can only hope we soon discover the true value in reading and writing poetry, and help facilitate its emergence from a lower art form to a higher art form, where it truly belongs. Only then can poetry be truly transformative.
In my poem, An Infinite Dream, my hope was to offer a new perspective during this challenging transitional period in our history. Many of us are waking up to a world where we are feeling a heightened sense of urgency as we near the crossroads that seem to threaten our very existence. We are tired of remaining on this destructive and clearly unsustainable path. It would serve us greatly to reexamine art forms like poetry that can serve as a light in the darkness and show us that this is actually a very beautiful time to be alive; a time where we are being called to embrace our true power and observe ourselves and others without judgment or ego. Poetry is not just on the page. It is everywhere where we choose it to be. It is a creative perspective, a childlike nature that becomes a path to the heart.
An Infinite Dream
There is a silent longing that strains the heart and pulsates the mind.
To smile adoringly at even the worst enemies within us.
The pick-pocketing hands of fear
That take our energy one day and our youth the next.
The hope-extinguishing darkness
Enclosing the path formed by the shuffling of tired steps.
We are the children of God who birthed our own demons
Like sleepwalking mages casting spells in the night.
And though it is dark outside, it is time to wake up.
Wake up inside an infinite dream.
Slowly open your eyes and look around you.
And maybe you'll hear a voice say:
"What will your love create today?"
And maybe you'll decide to turn your eyes like brushstrokes and tell a new story,
Where the worn and rusty cages of the mind are the golden gates into paradise.
We are an infinite dream.
We are an infinite dream.