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Poetry is the best weapon against sorrow. It will set you free.

Anonymous Coward
User ID: 76674
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04/01/2006 11:55 PM
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Poetry is the best weapon against sorrow. It will set you free.
The power of poetry

Tracy Press [link to www.tracypress.com]

As a refugee, immigrant and stranger in a new country, Timea Csonka Frye often turned to the written word as a way to express her emotions. She eventually found that all people can learn that the high and low points in their lives are poems yet to be written, and by putting out those thoughts and feelings, they increase their chances of connecting with others who have similar experiences.

She started her own Web site, www.tnjpoetry.com, in 2004, and last year, she published a book of poems, called “The Violin.” This year, she sponsored a poetry contest for students at the Tracy Learning Center as a way to show them how to express themselves and find their self-esteem.

Now she is prepared to expand her efforts through the city’s recreation programs and the Tracy Learning Center, with the hope that others can learn to put their lives in perspective through the expression of poetry.

Our Town: How did you discover poetry as a way to express yourself?

Timea Csonka Frye: I discovered poetry through my father. He used to have notebooks filled with poems. Also going through the hardship of finding myself in an Austrian refugee camp at the age of 10, I began writing my private emotions and thoughts on paper.

Without knowing it at the time, I was writing poetry.

Poetry is the best weapon against sorrow. It is the way for your passions, feelings, thoughts and sentimental means to be expressed. When you write poetry, in a way you are letting go of something or accepting your faith in it. It is a healing source to me.

Frank Nagy, “Papa,” whom I have known since I was 12, is like a grandfather to me. He has been a poet since an early age in his life. Every morning, he comes to visit and drink coffee with me as we discuss and read each other’s poems. I am now translating most of his poems into English, while hoping to publish a book of his poetry combined with my own this year.

OT: How does a person benefit from writing poetry? Why do you feel this is especially important for children?

Timea: One thing I know from my own experiences. You don’t have to be like the Hungarian poet, Petofi Sandor, or even William Shakespeare, to write poetry. Anyone with emotion is capable of doing so. My belief is that no one can teach poetry. Poetry comes from within.

A poem can be read a thousand different ways. It depends on how the reader relates to it. You may discuss and analyze a poem all you please. I believe that the author of the poem is the only one who knows its true concept, as it was created from the author’s own emotions.

Poetry is the soul’s violin. Just as the violin expresses someone’s emotions, so does poetry. Poetry opens up a great door to allow children and young adults to reveal their most inner emotions. It is a great way for them to discover or recover their individuality. It allows them to be seen and acknowledged as a human being.

OT: What was your family’s life like in Hungary? Why did you leave?

Timea: My father worked with the Hungarian theater called Jozsef Varosi Szinhaz. My mother was working for the Hungarian government. We were very well off. We had a nice home, and I had my own room, with toys from foreign countries. My parents traveled a lot. Yet we had to leave Hungary to find freedom.

These are my father’s words: “We left Hungary because we wanted freedom. The time we left, it was hard to keep a good job or get schooling for your children if you were not a member of the Communist Party. I would not join. Some people even labeled me as an anti-communist because I opened my mouth a few times when I shouldn’t have. So we had no choice but to leave.”

OT: Do you have any regrets?

Timea: Well, I was told we were going on a family trip to Austria, with my uncle Gabi, his wife, Jutka; my little brother, Andy and my mom and dad. When we arrived in Vienna, we settled in a hotel. I’ll never forget when my parents sat me down to explain what we were about to do. All of us were crying as if we had lost a loved one. In a way, that was true. We had lost the rest of our family because we had left them all behind.

My regret was that I could not afford to take my parents back so they could see their loved ones before they all passed away. My mother lost most of her immediate family before we left Hungary. She had only her two brothers, Zoli and Bandi. During our immigration to the U.S., we lost our uncles, as well. We couldn’t attend their funerals, and this weighed heavily on our hearts.

Even though we had a very hard past as refugees, I wouldn’t change it for the universe. It educated me on how to conquer the difficulties in my life and to appreciate everything that the Lord has blessed me with.

OT: What was your experience in the refugee camp and your family’s emigration to the U.S.? How did it shape your view of the world and of other people?

Timea: In Hungary, I was already labeled because I come from a Romani (Gypsy), and on my father’s side, a German-Jewish background. Even though my family is Roman Catholic and I was raised and lived by the Hungarian customs, I was always teased at school.

Yet I was astonished by the inhuman treatment we received at the refugee camp. I was a pampered child and had never been exposed to such an environment. We had to share a room filled with hundreds of bunk beds with strangers. Everyone had to use one bathroom. For more than 1,000 people, the camp had only a few toilets, which had never been cleaned, six showers without any doors on them, and a long sink, which was overflowing.

We had to fight to keep our spot, guard our things with our lives, and learn to eat things we would not even give to a dog. We had to learn the rules for the survival of the refugee camp. We were moved to four refugee camps. The Austrians had celebrations in the memory of the Nazi era. They wore white clothes and walked to our hostel with torches. They called out our families by our last names. I have now seen the horror my ancestors had experienced. It was humiliating. Yet we did not fall into their trap.

In 1989, we were sponsored by the Trinity Church in Vermillion, SD. When we arrived in the United States, we did not speak English. Just getting from one airport to the other was a task. When we made it, we were blessed by the kindness of people for giving us the opportunity to enjoy freedom. They gave us a roof over our heads and introduced us to other Hungarians, who helped us settle in.

School was very hard for me because of the language barrier. In every country, I had learned to fight for my right as a human being, and I eventually earned their respect. I was surprised to learn that the American children were the cruelest. First thing they said to me was to go back to my country. They put things in my hair and made fun of me. But instead of allowing their words to break me down, it gave me more desire to learn English.

I have a little reminder to give to children today: America was formed by immigrants. Never treat anyone with cruelty just because they are different from you. The person you might be making fun of may have more heartache then you have ever experienced in your life.

My experiences allowed me to understand that the world is not friendly, nor do I have the ability to change it. But I have the ability to live in it to the best of my ability.

OT: When did you realize that writing and teaching poetry would be a central aspect of your life? What made you decide to publish your work?

Timea: I am not a teacher of poetry. I am just a poet who likes to open up the minds of children.

My story is simple. I believe God has blessed us all with a gift. Some of us have recognized and acknowledged the gift by using it to better our lives. But some of us are still searching for our mission in life. I was blessed; my prayers have been answered. The moment after I asked the Lord to show me why I was here, I began to write. Soon after, I posted my poems on christianpoetry.com.

I receive a letter from a man in India, Katta Enukalu, who had converted from Hinduism to Christianity and became a pastor. He read my poem to his congregation and wrote me an e-mail, thanking me for acknowledging his people in my poem “Pray!” I knew then that this was the Lord’s work.

I never even thought of publishing a poetry book. I was not even ready for it. I was more determined to publish my children’s book with this publishing company, which I found through another Christian Web site. Yet I was unsuccessful and was turned away.

Within moments after my children’s book was rejected, I made up a name for my poetry book and turned in my query letter. A day later, I was in. They wanted to publish my poetry. I could not believe it. Even though I only had 42 poems, and they had to have 50 for printing, they would not turn me away. I told them I would have more in a few days. It took me three days to write eight more poems. It was just pouring out of me. None of the poems were about me. It was about helping others and about Jesus Christ. The Lord made it happen.

Although he gave me this wonderful gift, he tested me as well. I found out a few days later that my mother has terminal lung cancer. I somehow cursed God. I could not believe that he would allow this to happen to my mother.

As I accepted my mother’s faith and begged the Lord for forgiveness, I made a promise to God that I would never question his decisions again. My mother’s last wish was to visit Hungary before she passed on. She had never returned to Hungary since we left in 1987. My husband and I sold almost everything that was worth money in a garage sale to make her wish a reality. We also had donations from friends and neighbors that made it possible for my mother and I to go back to Hungary.

A few months later, my book, “The Violin,” was printed, and I dedicated it to my mother.

OT: How did you get involved with the city and with the Tracy Learning Center? What kind of outcome do you hope for?

Timea: TnJPoetry started in 2004 as a Web site about my poetry and my life before my book was published. It was more of a hobby at the time, just a place for people to read my work. When my book was published, I decided to use my Web site to help children and young adults by posting their work on the site for free. I had a few people post their work and even had a poem dedicated to me.

I then realized I could do more. I decided to have a poetry contest for different age groups. But how would the children find out about my contest? As a parent, I do not allow my children to surf the Internet. I decided to go to the schools and hold a winter poetry contest for second- through fifth-graders, a spring poetry contest for sixth- through eighth-graders, a summer contest for any age group, with fall for the high school students. This is how TnJPoetry will give the opportunity and a path for children to express their ideas, likes, dislikes and inner souls — and be rewarded for it.

Virginia Stewart, the principal at Tracy Learning Center, opened her doors for the Winter TnJPoetry Contest. We chose three great winners, and the winner’s pictures made it into Our Town, and the students were so proud of their accomplishments. It was the most satisfying feeling to bring joy to the children and see their faces light up with delight. I hope in the future that more schools will consent to TnJPoetry’s poetry contest. It will be fun for the students and for our community.

OT: What do you enjoy about working with children? How will you know if your efforts are successful?

Timea: Not all children are blessed with confidence, which they need to advance in their lifetime. I hope that TnJPoetry will give them the opportunity to acknowledge that it is OK to be different and that poetry is a great way to express their emotions.
“To recognize your self worth, should only take a second!

Yet most men will search for it until the final days of their lifetime!”
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 76669
United States
04/02/2006 12:08 AM
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Re: Poetry is the best weapon against sorrow. It will set you free.
Poetry is for people who cannot write a complete sentence or express a clear thought. I used the medium when I was a teenager because the school system was retarding and thwarting my thinking and writing skills.
I wrote encoded messages in poetry because I was being beaten up at home and school (both mentally and physically) for not conforming.
People who continue to write poetry into adulthood are typically mentally ill.
A few cynical professors use it as a mind game.
I have read a great deal of poetry.
The genre was destroyed professionally speaking a few years back with the publication of Reflections in a Convex Mirror.
Dr Strange

User ID: 51614
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04/02/2006 12:09 AM
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Re: Poetry is the best weapon against sorrow. It will set you free.
Poetry is the purest most beautiful way of communicating ...i love poetry ..poetry is life ...i will put a few poems here : ) ...Peace to the poets.
Dr Strange

User ID: 51614
United States
04/02/2006 12:13 AM
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Re: Poetry is the best weapon against sorrow. It will set you free.
Paradise being created by the dreamer

Paradise grows in the mind of a dreamer
Sitting in his spot ..under the tree...in the park
Under the sun...his lamp...on the perfect days he creates
Each day perfecting his world
There are trees, animals and people in it
All the colors he can imagine
But with a glow that only love can bring
Everything lives and dies in peace
Each living thing passes from paradise to paradise
Eternity lives in so many life forms
In so many eyes ...in so many ways to feel and see
and so many ways to experience the love that abounds
So many ways to show that grandest of feelings
Imagine if you can find a smile.... a glow in all that lives
Imagine if the rocks were sculpted by the rain of love
To reveal crystals of supernatural beauty
Houses can be created to contain souls this way
Brilliant, rich, radiant beings
Each a dream castle ....each a place to keep an eternity
Keep it beautiful and strong ...forever interesting
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 76752
United States
04/02/2006 07:48 AM
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Re: Poetry is the best weapon against sorrow. It will set you free.
Hang it all and leave me thus.
I care, but pardon is too deep.
And I can't go weaving
a noose around my neck.
Distraught, I keep my courage up.
Displeasure, a lustrous treasure,
to sound transcribes my grief.
The salted slug you hear at last.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 76753
Hong Kong
04/02/2006 07:51 AM
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Re: Poetry is the best weapon against sorrow. It will set you free.
A Divine Image
- A Song of Experience

Cruelty has a Human Heart,
And Jealousy a Human Face;
Terror the Human Form Divine,
And Secrecy the Human Dress.

The Human Dress is Forged Iron,
The Human Form a fiery Forge,
The Human Face a Furnace seal'd,
The Human Heart its hungry Gorge.

William Blake book stoner
User ID: 74428
04/02/2006 11:05 AM
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Re: Poetry is the best weapon against sorrow. It will set you free.
Poems in a cooky
Poems in a glass of vine
Poems in every bodies
Poems need not words but
Poems like to be shared.

Anonymous Coward
User ID: 76791
United States
04/02/2006 11:18 AM
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Re: Poetry is the best weapon against sorrow. It will set you free.
A poem is born when words daydream.

User ID: 74224
United States
04/02/2006 11:33 AM
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Re: Poetry is the best weapon against sorrow. It will set you free.
"set you free"

so will a significant amount of fine tenneesee whiskey
Johnny Danger

User ID: 74060
United States
04/02/2006 11:33 AM
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Re: Poetry is the best weapon against sorrow. It will set you free.
The Poetry I write is better when I'm emotionally upset.

Hi Koo
User ID: 76784
United States
04/02/2006 11:36 AM
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Re: Poetry is the best weapon against sorrow. It will set you free.
Good analysis, 76669.

I've read far too much poetry that is nothing but the egocentric rantings of a dis-eased mind. These types of poems may be therapeutic to the author but are of little value to the reader.

I do have a lady friend who writes beautiful, descriptive nature poems celebrating the western and pacific northwest USA states she has lived in. These are enjoyable to read.

If by chance she has written any poems about her abusive marriage, ugly divorce and other men who have let her down, then
she is wise enough not to post them for public consumption since she realizes they are of no value to anyone but herself.

Anonymous Coward
User ID: 76791
United States
04/02/2006 11:37 AM
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Re: Poetry is the best weapon against sorrow. It will set you free.
John, could it be that pain is the best way to break through procrastination when it comes to your poetry?

Stong emotion moves us to action.