Showcasing the Arts

Nov./Dec. 2015 Featured Artist:
Sean Patrick Hill


Sean Patrick Hill Poet Sean Patrick Hill believes poetry is therapeutic as well as a form of artistic expression. Photo © Francine Conley
The driving force behind my poems is a need to comprehend my own existence. As such, I write a great deal about grief, spirituality, conflict and the nature of consciousness. In this way, my poems serve as a locating device, where I can fix a state of understanding and give shape to the ambiguous thoughts and feelings of everyday living, at least temporarily.

I find that I consistently draw on myth and spiritual traditions to express the deep humanity I am exploring within myself. Yoga and Buddhism, for example, provide a language to articulate the landscape and limits of consciousness. Mythologies as distinct as those of Greece and of the Iroquois provide a narrative structure to the process of growth, of individuation and of self-development and self-actualization.

The inclusion of all these diverse sources creates a poem that is as much collage as collision. In writing about the recent death of my father, for example, I found all manner of knowledge, language and image tumbling forth in a manner that leaves the poem mirroring the process of thought itself, particularly when thought is in a state of confusion. The style I created to accommodate such overflow of feelings, as Wordsworth said, abjures and abandons most punctuation, capitalization and many of the formal tendencies we associate with poetry. White space dominates.

My poems, therefore, move rapidly. I write in a way that can keep up with the deluge of feelings and seemingly disparate thoughts. It is the task of the poem to somehow cohere the totality of primal articulations of pain, grief and joy, so the reader might experience what it is like to experience death, to experience grief and to experience the ecstasy of an expanding awareness.

Poetry is as much therapeutic as it is communicative. By no means are my poems meant to entertain or even enthrall; rather, they are milestones along a path where one pushes through to the deeper consciousness of history, of the individual self, into the relationships with the world which create and maintain that self. My poems likewise draw on philosophy, both eastern and western, so they are expressive, too, of a way of living in the world, a way of being. But they also simply name birds, trees, and the degrees of light along the wall and window.

I have often likened a poem to a birdcage, where the small gate is left ajar so that the bird, always imperceptible it seems, might flit in and out. Poems that act as urns, self-enclosed and lidded, do not interest me. I wish my poems to breathe. I wish them to be simultaneously thin-ribbed containers and open air. After all, a poem begins, for me, as a gathering of air in a lung, passing in exhalation over the vocal cords as the wind does the chimes.

Above all, a poem is music, rhythm, a substantiation of sound. A poem must sing, and in the singing, it finds its chorus among readers. Even the chorus within myself.

Sean Patrick Hill
Louisville, Ky.


Page last updated: June 8, 2016
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