A few years ago I found this saying that just resonated with me. It pinpointed how I’ve often felt about myself.
April is National Poetry Month. Of course, the way things are going, the days have become one long day seeping into the next and I’m not always sure the “National” day or the month. I have noticed that I’ve turned to music, and art, and writers and poets during these troubled times. Of course I did.
I was thinking about this blog I posted a few years ago that is perfect for National Poetry Month. You see, as a writer, I have this dirty little secret. I don’t like poetry.
I think I’ve said that before. I don’t understand meter and dactylic hexameter. I don’t get couplets or pentameter. Not to mention stichomythia nor macaronic. Rhyme schemes and stanzas seem such antiquated ideas. Ideas endorsed by cruel English Teachers.
Pastorals and odes and elegies…these are not things of the 21st century. These are relics. Ideas from a time when women and men had naught but wide open space to dream. Where thoughts could stretch and roam.
We’ve run out of space. There is no more area in which we can wander lonely as clouds on snowy evenings.
Love has changed since the hay day of poetry, since poets, in swoon worthy stations sketched their admiration into velum.
Gone are the days where we loved to the depth and breadth and height. Luves are no more like red, red roses or larks walking in beauty, like the night, arising at the break of day.
Annabel Lee was put to rest by the sea and beside her lie coy Mistresses, and ladies and pied beauties.
Oh, Poetry! O you Pioneers of our Past. Oy, you wretched romantics.
Philosophizing over diverging roads; pondering over weak and weariness as they defy going gently into good nights.
And if it wasn’t romance or personal theology; it was adventure and escape those poets carved out of their pages. With odes to unravish’d brides of quietness; Captains, O captains. Tyger’s burning bright, who stayed always weary of the Jabberwocky. There were midnight rides and stalwart ships sailing into battle.
And my friends, as I write this, and as you are reading this, I must admit: I’m positively worried because I never knew I knew so much about poetry I hated.
But my anger will not be contained, because then those English teacher pets grew out of the weird, wonky concrete jungle. These new Niks beat and howled their way into mainstream. All the while they burned for heavenly connection and had wild dreams of new beginnings.
And I always hated poetry.
I’ve never liked the stuff.
I didn’t know I internalized such ridiculous flowery fluff.
Poetry does this to you, you know. When you’re not paying attention, this stuff with its allusions and ambiguity; with its opus and organic forms; septets and sestets; and other ridiculousness. It finds ways to seep into our pores and enlighten and enrage, to make a lasting impression or a passing imprint.
So, maybe hate is too strong a word. Because as I spout my strange abhorrence, a list of names and poems have swept through my thinking space and are setting themselves up for a lively party.
Perhaps my relationship with poetry is too entangled an affair than I had originally imagined. Perhaps I do like poetry. Perhaps I don’t always understand the intense intricacies of the verse and the propriety of phrasing. But there just might be something there I like. Dare I say something there I even admire.
I suppose it only right I link to several of my favorite poems, because this might be my other dirty little secret. I believe I like poetry.
Nikki Giovanni – I Wrote A Good Omelet
Billy Collins – To my favorite 17 year old High School girl
Elan Mudrow – Last First Day Back
Joy Harjo – Perhaps the World Ends Here
Terri Niccum – What We Found
What poetry have you found haunts you, follows you, soothes you these days?
*Side note: You know when you see an interesting quote and you think, “that would look good stitched on a pillow?” Yeah, my mom thought my favorite quote would look good stitched. Now this hangs on my wall.