Where have all the poet’s gone?

Market Square in Krakow, Poland

I first posted this blog almost a year ago. As I was reading it again I felt it worth re-posting.

As I stood in the center of the market square of Old Krakow, Poland I was amazed by who was on display. A poet? The statue of Adam Mickiewicz, the greatest Polish Romantic poet of the 19th century, stood boldly and alone in the market square. On display in the center of most cities is a people’s most treasured heroes and collective triumphs. In Krakow, the former capital of Poland and home to Wawel, the historical castle and place of coronation for the Poland King’s, I would have anticipated war heroes or kings enshrined in the market square. But there in the market square was a lone poet.

I was stunned.

In the City of Kings stands a poet.

As we consider leadership in the present day church what often comes to our minds first are the names or faces of its kings. The strategists, builders and architects. But maybe like Krakow, Poland, a city of kings, we should give voice and place to the poets.

What is a poet?

“Poets listen for stories, symbols, signs, and language beneath people’s words. In traditional culture this person was silent much of the time, listening to the talk of the people and, out of listening, giving voice to the unspoken feelings of the people. Ancient poets would do this through music, story, art, writing, imagery. Their core skills were the ability to listen to the stories of the dominant, surrounding culture, understand the ways it enters, shapes, forms and interacts with community, and unfolds what is happening in these currents through the arts.” says, Alan Roxbourgh.

It was our most famous global moment as a nation. The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. For many it was during the opening ceremony that a nation’s identity and hopes were expressed in the words of a unknown, well spoken slam poet by the name of Shane Koyczan. Born in Yellowknife this young man galvanized a nation’s heart, feelings, historical hopes and present realities.

He stood alone on our stage and alone he called us to who we are as Canadians.

We felt it in our bones as he spoke. Only poets can do that.

The present day church is scrambling for life as it is being swallowed up in the growing cultural post-modern worldview. Leaders that are aware of their surroundings are disoriented and confused with how to lead in these times. Churches are either insulated in their own embrace, unaware of their marginalized voice, or they are aware and often paralyzed, staring into the abyss of uncertainty. This is the climate for poets to emerge. Poets make sense of the experiences churning inside of people. They coalesce the collective feelings of a people.

The church is churning on the inside.

Poets give voice and meaning to that collective agitation. They are not strategists or the ones who will bring the solutions. They give voice and they give language that fosters the dialogue of the current realities.

Where are the poets?

They are here… they are being forged out of the fires of uncertain times.


Vulnerability will be their robes and poignant notions their mark. Listen for them, watch for them, be one of them.

In a City of Kings look for the poets.

Todd Rutkowski

~ by blueporch on September 27, 2011.

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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