The Problem With Poetry

“Hang there, my verse, in witness of my love.”

~Shakespeare, As You Like It

I love poetry. Everyone who knows me can tell you that, and those who don’t know me, well, they learn that fact quickly. The ironic thing is that I don’t go around quoting it or throwing lines around like they’re party favors. For me, poetry is something I hold gently inside to ponder in awe at its beauty, then release back into the world in my own way. I try my best not to force it on those who don’t appreciate it as much as I do. But oh, how my heart beats wildly when I meet someone who “gets it.”

But I have an issue with you self-acclaimed poetry dislikers. Stop apologizing to me for not liking it. I don’t expect you to get it. We live in an age where poetry is not looked upon kindly. The majority of people do their very best to avoid it if they can. So I don’t expect you to like my poetry, and I don’t expect you to change your attitude about it. I do, however, expect you to respect that poetry is writing, and not something separate and vile and “not real writing.”

Poetry gets a terrible rap because most poetry that we’re taught in school uses outdated language that’s hard to understand in our society. Who wants to try and figure out what hidden meanings might lie behind all those “thee’s” and “thou’s”? Why can’t it be written in plain English?

Because it isn’t prose, poetry seems to fall into the same category as, say, finger painting compared to Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating. Nah…it really does seem to be pushed off into that comparison sometimes. Ask a perfect stranger on the street what the last poem was that they read then pay close attention to the look that crosses their face. Was that a look of horror, or perhaps they were bemused? Wait, did they actually laugh out loud?

Not all poetry is hard to read. In fact, some can be rather fun. A lady in my writing group wrote a poem about coffee. I myself have written one about a sore throat. Some poetry does contain meanings, both abstract and concrete, but most comtemporary poetry isn’t hard to understand anymore. For example, read We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks. Better yet…listen to it. Today, Amanda made a statement today in group that poetry is like Shakespeare in that it wasn’t made, really, to be read but to be seen and heard. That’s a fairly accurate statement. Poetry was not usually written down but memorized and performed then passed down verbally. Most was accompanied by music. Which is why I find it incredibly amusing when people tell me they don’t like poetry. What do you think songs are? They are poems set to music. Granted, they are not all that great but what do you make of these lyrics?

There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

In my life I love you more

This is poetry. And I bet you didn’t make it through it without the music chiming in your brain.

And the idea that poetry is dead amuses me to no end because poetry was never on its deathbed. It hasn’t breathed its last yet. It sits quietly in the background, patient and observant. Its disciples seek it out, and, sometimes, it sneaks up on you when you least expect it. Sometimes it hits you with the force of a sledgehammer, while other people are led to it through the love of something, or someone, else. But it isn’t dead.

So stop apologizing to me for not liking poetry. If it doesn’t speak to you then I’m okay with that. But do not make the mistake of telling me it isn’t “real writing.” Because I will take up the gauntlet you throw down.

Jesi

2 responses to “The Problem With Poetry

  1. I may be new to my love of poetry, but you know I have fallen head over heels. 😉

  2. It doesn’t speak to me, but I don’t think that I would ever consider it “not writing”. Of course it’s writing!

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