Poetry both situates and directs; it compels and evokes. Poetry locates the human experience within the vastness of a reality in which we are often grasping to find our purchase, our place, our purpose. A word or a phrase is thrown down to us, a line if you will, that both rescues us and encourages us to go yet deeper, to fall a little more, to risk a bit more. 

Poetry acts as a compass. From the spinning of emotions that wind us up and release us into chaos, a poem has the power to set us on the path again, to orient us home, to our soul’s most enlivened state. 

The magnificent and sparse ordering of just the right words are like a key, unlocking a chamber we have kept secret, even from ourselves. In this way poetry compels us to venture into our own shadows, guided by the light of a newly opened door. It is in these newly alighted spaces within us that we find the fullness of our humanity as we witness our own fullness. Poetry compels us to see the universal in ourselves and to see ourselves in the universal. Poetry compels us to connect to what it means to be human. 

But the true magic of poetry is not in a line or a verse or a mathematically perfected sonnet. Poetry takes our breath because of what lives in the spaces between the words, in the underbelly of a phrase, and in the unconscious that is called forth. 

“Good” poetry is that which calls forth some dim vision, some emotion we had packed away in a treasure box and stored in a protected place. A poem is like a spell, an incantation that awakens a forgotten object, person, experience that is now ready to be met once again, invited into being and integration with who we are in the moment of the rendering. 

You have a gift in your hands, these words, these incantations are offered to you as prayers. Each one is as much an invocation, a summoning of that which has lain dormant within you, as they are a benefaction, a bow for you to untie and feel secured to another’s heart, to find yourself less alone, less unmoored. 

These poems have come to me through the ether, often appearing by text, no preface or context, arriving like a firefly in the darkness or like the unexpected flash of a burning star. I have been given the repeated gift of their presence in my life through ENSO’s generosity, pearls strung together and offered at moments of sadness, confusion, loss, and rapture. I received them spontaneously, and I invite you to receive them likewise. 

Hold the pages in your hands and invite the words herein to dance with you. Feel the rhythm of your being and simply open to the page that calls you in return. In this way, you will be a co-creator with ENSO, a partner in bringing the words to life. 

It is my hope that these poems will both find you and dis-locate you, that these words both ground you in your humanity and remind you of the limitlessness from which you came. 

In peace and poetry, 

Lisa Carley Hotaling 


TransContinental Times

13 October 2020

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