Better Read Than Dead, a poem by Ken Chawkin

Here is another earlier poem, written sometime in the late 80’s or early 90’s, when I was filling in as an extra Maharishi Ayurvedic health technician during an exclusive weekend for special guests at what is now called the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center Lancaster in Massachusetts.

In the staff dining room over lunch, I met a former concert violinist who had recently switched careers to become a Maharishi Ayurveda massage therapist. When I asked her why she stopped playing in the symphony she said her arms had been giving her problems. As a result of encountering Maharishi Ayurveda, she took treatments and then felt it would be more nourishing for her to become a therapist and treat others.

We talked about poetry and music, how reading words or notes on paper didn’t really bring a poem or piece of music to life; it had to be recited or played, and appreciated by an audience. That discussion inspired me, and during a quiet moment there, I wrote Better Read Than Dead.

Better Read Than Dead

Better read than dead, better said than read.
Poems are not meant to be just words left for dead on a page.
They’re meant to be read alive instead to an audience from a stage.

The blue print is not the building,
nor is a picture of it,
nor a vision of it.

When two beams of focused light intersect
through a piece of film
they fill the place before them with a form of light
in three-dimensional space.

When two beams of focused attention intersect
through a poet’s words,
speech going through them, silence receiving them,
they fill the space in the heart with a form of feeling.

From the heart, through the mouth, to the ear, into the heart, in here.

© Ken Chawkin

Later Updated with these relevant posts: Sometimes Poetry Happens: a poem about the mystery of creativity, and Celebrating Poetry Month with one of my poems, Poetry—The Art of the Voice, and what inspired it. It includes links to interviews from The Diane Rehm Show with Bill Moyers and poets Marge Piercy, Mark Strand, and Jane Hirshfield, who were included in his PBS poetry special: Fooling with Words with Bill Moyers.

2 Responses to “Better Read Than Dead, a poem by Ken Chawkin”

  1. the secret keeper Says:

    An insightful poem that catches every corner of understanding in its expression. I agree with the message. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: