What’s Up with Poetry?

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The Old English epic poem Beowulf is written i...

Poetry isn't about dead, boring old men jabbering in a foreign language.

So, I write poetry. Poetry has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Because of this, it is strange to me when I hear people saying they dislike poetry. Dictionary.com (oh how I love thee) defines poetry as: “the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts.”

How could anyone dislike that?  I mean, I understand disliking a particular poem, poet, or type of poetry, but I do not understand how anyone can dislike the genre as a whole.  It’s like saying that you hate art or that you hate music. It doesn’t make sense.

I think that the reason people feel like they hate poetry is because they associate it with classrooms, syllables, rhyme patterns, and analysis. It’s something you have to “get” in order to pass a test.  But if that’s all you see, that isn’t poetry at all.

Poetry is “the measured language of emotion.” It’s a way of taking what you feel and turning it into something that others can understand. It’s about using language as a sieve through which you filter the messy existence of yourself and see what you find.

In the words of poet Babette Deutsch, “Poetry is important. No less than science, it seeks a hold upon reality, and the closeness of its approach is the test of its success.”  But I think Elizabeth Dew describes it best.

“We read poetry because the poets, like ourselves, have been haunted by the inescapable tyranny of time and death; have suffered the pain of loss, and the more wearing, continuous pain of frustration and failure; and have had moods of unlooked-for release and peace. They have known and watched in themselves and others.”

I don’t know if that makes sense, but I hope that you “get” poetry a little better.

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4 responses »

  1. What’s up with poetry is that much of it that is accepted and lauded by the poetry world doesn’t even match the definition from Dictionary.com that you posted. And the reading public recognizes that it isn’t and has departed in disgust, distaste, and disdain.

  2. Pingback: How I Know There’s Magic In Poetry | Elizabeth Kate Switaj

  3. Pingback: Into the Fold of the Strange « The Chronic Vacacionista

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