I heard this question the other day and it stuck in my mind. “Art, you have been writing poetry since you were thirteen years old. What good has it done?”
I’ve given that a lot of thought lately. My brother-in-law Jack Monahan was a builder. He could drive anywhere in the Detroit area and show me a building or a hospital or a special home and point to it and say, “I was in on building that building.” Even a plumber could show me the buildings he’d plumbed. A roadbuilder could take me for a ride on the highway he’d helped create. A high school teacher could show me year books of the students she’d taught. But a poem?
I’ve distributed many thousands of my poems at my presentations but I wonder how many have made it past the first waste basket they encountered.
I’ve closed most of my speeches with my poems and most folks have applauded and some even stood on their feet.
Others have read my poems to their listeners on radio and TV, sometimes to audience of several million but what good did that do? I haven’t a clue.
A few of my poems have been published in the books of others. Some magazines have published my poems. But what good has all of the above done?
It is difficult to explain why things are written but I must admit that I had no choice but to write those many books and poems and newsletters and endless ideas that have passed through my mind onto paper. I’m a writer. That is what I do. I’m a speaker. I’ve been giving speeches since the late 1960’s. Thousands.
I have no choice in this matter of capturing thoughts on paper and sharing them. That’s who I am and how I function. And here is a little secret. I write because I must. The real joy to this writing thing is in the actual doing. Anything that happens after the writing is either the price or the joy or pure gravy.
Here’s a little poem I wrote recently following a group poetry recitation.
Poetry Reading Art Fettig
One lady told me she was ninety-five
Another one looks just barely alive
There’s one who wears a perpetual smile
And a man who suffers from liver bile.
They’re a peppy group and we’re happy to be there
Otherwise we haven’t been invited anywhere
Everyone adores our work and how!
But they’re just too busy for it right now
The poet’s life is just not easy
Right now my stomach is a little queasy
I Just might put my career on the shelf
Stay home and read my poems to myself.