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Poetry to restore the complexity of the world

November 11, 2009

Poetry helps explain a complex world

Rick Barot wasn’t looking for how to address worldly issues when he began writing poetry.

“I think, like a lot of poets, I started in poetry having very self-serving reasons,” the PLU professor said.

In college, it was therapeutic and very much an emotional release.

But as he learned the craft and honed his own skills, the complexity of it and how poetry can be used in addressing ethical, even moral values became clear.

“These days, I think of it as having a larger role in how society can be better,” Barot said. “I’m trying to make them think about the world differently through poetry.”

Recently, he was one of 16 recipients of the 2009 Artist Trust Fellowship Awards, which recognizes an artist’s creative excellence and accomplishments, professional achievement and continuing dedication to their artistic discipline. It comes with a $7,500 cash award. In 2009, more 380 applicants in a variety of disciplines applied for the fellowship.

For Barot the award was an acknowledgment of his work, including his books “The Darker Fall” (2002) and “Want” (2008).

Being a poet can be incredibly lonely work, he said. The encouragement of something like an Artist Trust Fellowship Award can be exciting to say the least.

“I know I like it (his poetry) on a good day and I know my mom likes it, but this is different,” he said. “It’s a nice difference. I feel I’ve been told I can keep going.”

To be honest, he had forgotten about it when he was informed he had received the award. After the feeling of jubilance faded, a sense of validation stayed.

For Barot poetry is a way of restoring the complexity of feelings and thoughts in a society that gravitates toward quick sound bites.

“It’s just restoring complexity to who you are inside when you read different things,” he said.