The power of poetry | NevadaAppeal.com

The power of poetry

Dr. Eugene Paslov
For the Nevada Appeal

As a literary art form good poetry is difficult to write; when read, it also sometimes challenges our understanding. Unless read many times, or read aloud and thought about deeply, poetry may elude our intellectual senses.

Many avoid both the reading and writing of poetry because of its symbolic complexity, but at the same time we are all vaguely aware of the poetry in the best of popular music, such as “Imagine” by John Lennon: “Imagine there’s no Heaven … It’s easy if you try – no hell below us only sky … Imagine all the people Living for today.” We come to treasure words of certain popular songs. We feel music is the poetry of our lives.

The Bible also includes some of the world’s most powerful poetry: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation; Neither shall they learn war any more.” Poetry represents elements of truth, beauty and meaning in all of our lives.

On May 28, Western Nevada College produced a poetry exhibit, “Always Lost: A Meditation on War.” Two of the college’s professors, Don Carlson and Marilee Swirczek, with the help of their respective assistants and their classes, produced a powerful collaboration of poetry, prose, graphic charts and stunning photographs (Doug Deacy), which would help viewers understand the meaning of war and the loss of our children.

There was no editorializing. There are more than 4,000-plus pictures of men and women who had lost their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. Kevin Burns (Major, USMC ret.), a WNC English Instructor, asked us to look into the eyes of our soldiers and think, meditate and reflect about their and our loss. It is a humbling experience. I have gone back several times to think, to reflect on the meaning in the eyes of the men and women.

The exhibit runs until Aug. 20, Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibit is located on the main floor of the Bristlecone building on the Carson City WNC campus. The gallery is on the first floor and the poetry, prose, photos and charts fill the main gallery, as well as the north and south walls of the hallway leading to the gallery.

On the south wall, before one enters the gallery itself, is the poetry of soldier Noah Charles Pierce. He died by his own hand at age 23 after serving two tours in Iraq. Pierce’s mother gave permission to display her son’s poetry. His words alone are worth your trip to this exhibit.

• Dr. Eugene T. Paslov, former Nevada superintendent of schools, is a board member for Silver State Charter High School in Carson City.