I think roses aren’t always red.
I think violets are sometimes indigo.
I like bacon.
And Poetry is hard.
Especially during allergy season.
What do you think?
In the past few posts, we’ve explored the depths of poetic fears and even the occasional cloaked hatred of poetry. We’ve also discussed some strategies for dealing with those issues which included talk therapy and a type of systematic desensitization.
Today, let’s explore some reasons we like poetry or dare I say, love poetry? What lures us to this word-art form?
According to the data collected from an esteemed selective demographic—my own group of WordSmith Studio poets, reasons vary poet-to-poet.
And they span the entire spectrum from: “It’s the one that gives me the most room to play.”(thank you, Khara House) to compelling altruistic reasons.
The poll results indicate:
For four of us, however, poetry presents us with a new perspective on life and I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that for the others, this is true, too.
I’m going to camp on this last one for the rest of this post because it deserves some attention.
Didn’t your mama tell you not to stand on the furniture?
Remember in Dead Poets Society when John Keating (Robin Williams) instructs his students to stand on the school desk as a reminder to look at the world in a different way? He tells them “just when you think you know something, you have to look at it in another way.”
He gave them permission to climb on top of the desk. Some readily did, some were reluctant. For all it was transforming.
A few years ago, I adopted the motto Tertuim Quid.
Definition from the On-line Etymology Dictionary:
“Tertuim Quid: 1724, Latin, literally “third something,” loan-translation of Greek triton ti (Plato), used in alchemy for ‘unidentified element present in a combination of two known ones.’”
Okay, that makes no sense.
Here’s a better definition from the Free Dictionary:
1. Something related in some way to two things, but distinct from both; something intermediate between two things.
I confess to not being the brightest jellybean in the bowl, so I brought this down a notch.
Tertuim Quid: the third thing, the other thing.
Here’s how it works in my mind:
Tertuim Quid is that defining moment when I begin to perceive a point-of-view that is different from my preconceived thoughts, something I hadn’t previously conceived or cognitively entertained.
This third thing, thus, also assists me in becoming more empathetic . It encourages creative thinking. It encourages expression of feelings in that we can feel safe to write vulnerably if our readers are thinking tertuim quid (Yes, I just verbed tertuim quid)
In other words, if they, too are standing on their desks.
Metaphorically speaking, of course.
(Unlike drama, I’m not going to encourage you to break a leg.)
One last thought:
Agreement is not the end-all and purpose of a poem.
Keating goes to to tell his students, “We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. . . poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”
As Sabra Powers stated, “poetry is the most powerful, connecting, and meaningful writing I know.”
You just can’t say that about any other form of writing.
Or can you?
What’s your tertuim quid on this perspective?
Originally post on the the WordSmith Studio site
“When Poetry Fails”
A crisp couplet
or fine internal rhyme
cannot conquer a cobra
nor can it fill a dry well
nor sing praise when dirges
reign in the heat of pain,
Rejoicing while your brother cries
is like pouring salt into his wounds.
A lighten strike into his soul.
I distrust my muse. Today
a poem will not satisfy.
The secret is out. Poets in their soul of souls don’t like a lot of poetry.
A month of Sundays ago, over at J. Lynn Sheridan’s poetry blog, Writing on the Sun, was a breezy post called, Secrets from a Poet. She began an occasional series on why people don’t like to read poetry. As I suspected and Sheridan confirmed, many if not most people experience poetry as a gigantic bag of wind.
Or, What is it about Poetry that stinks? (round 1)
He’s known for over 26 years I write poetry.
In fact, before we were married, one of the first things I dragged him to was the annual literary banquet at our community college. The instructors had voted my Shakespearean sonnet the winner of all the writing submissions and I needed a companion to attend the banquet with me.
He didn’t fool me, though. I knew he agreed to go just for the free meal, but that was okay. I didn’t want to be there alone with all those scary literary people. So, if his head was bowed to the roast beef and balsamic carrots, even if he didn’t say a word, I was okay with that. In fact, I probably encouraged him to snarf down my plate of food, too, so he wouldn’t say a word.
To me or to anyone.
After pretending to eat, I made a beeline for the Ladies Room. I prefer to believe that this was a moment of divine intervention. I didn’t know it then, but someone had talked the drama department into giving readings of each submitted poem.
When I stepped back into the hall, (miraculously missing the reading of my poem) I saw the Mister waving me in while the MC announced my name. I weaved my way around the monster tables and up to the podium hoping that I was all zipped and hooked and I casually (yes, I’m lying) accepted my award.
Then, he handed me something besides my ribbon—my very first check for writing. They told me it was so I could officially call myself a published poetess. If I even knew what that was, I didn’t feel like whatever a poetess should feel like.
My heart had always leaned towards songwriting. I played guitar. I guess I was kind of natural because I just took it up on my own when I was . . . oh, about junior. high. Not that I was great, but when the blue clouds hovered over me, I picked up my guitar and wrote a song, when the day was smiling on me, I picked up my guitar and wrote a song, when I broke up with . . . yes, I wrote a song.
So, I kept with the song writing thing all during college, then the kids came and I wrote goofy songs, and then this homeschooling gig came along and we sang patriotic songs and the President’s song, and the preposition song, and the multiplication song.
For the most part, though, the music and writing were my sanctuary and I pretty much kept it to myself other than playing at church on occasion. I don’t think that makes me a poetess or songwriter or writer.
During this time, the real poetry rotted in my journals, scattered and untouched. But, it was still me, a part of me and he—the Mister—has pretty much ignored this part of my life. And I kind of got to scratching my head about it since launching this blog. Why wouldn’t he just take a peak?
Along the same lines, I have to ask why even my friends react with an UGH! when I ask them to stop by my poetry blog. UGH?
Okay, I can accept that my friends might not want to share in my expressive regurgitations, but my own Mister?
While I was lounging in my jammies one night with a lovely cup of rice milk (dairy allergy)I pondered this riddle and came up with three reasonable reasons why he won’t read my poetry or blog— he hates me, he hates reading, and therefore he hates poetry.
One thing I have learned this year, thanks to some disturbing incidents, is that my perspective is not always right. So, I decided that I would take the advice of another mister and just ask my Mister directly.
Now, I know one of the rules written in the Good Wife Journal is that the little woman is not supposed to pose hard questions to her husband when he has just returned home from work, he’s reading the mail, or he’s about to take out the trash.
So, I waited until the opportune time—during the Bull’s game.
Yes, he huffed. But then, without even breaking into a sweat, he answered the question quite succinctly.
· One, he doesn’t understand it.
· Two, it doesn’t make sense or he’s too stupid to understand it. (he said it, not me.)
· And three, it’s boring.
Then he expounded on his answers, which I didn’t expect. He said “something in his brain just never clicked with poetry.”
He added that I “need to remember his brain doesn’t click with the whole English language.” When he was a kid, he didn’t remember other than a couple of times anybody ever writing it or pushing it in school. “The nuns either didn’t teach poetry or I slept through those lessons.”
Those were his words almost verbatim (hence, the quotation marks.) I almost understood all of them. So, I guess we scored a point on the communication issue. (hint: why I didn’t want him talking at the banquet.)
To boot, I got a glimpse of what the rest of the world must think about poetry. It all boils down to these four statements:
1. They don’t understand it.
2. It doesn’t make sense.
3. They are “too stupid” to understand it.
4. And it’s boring.
I have a few gripes (thoughts) about all of them, particularly number three and I’ll take that up next time. But, for now, if you have family and friends that don’t frolic in the poetic world, do you know why? Do their reasons differ from my list?
I’d love to add them to my master list.
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