Last week my husband revealed to me why he doesn’t read or like poetry.
1. He doesn’t understand it.
2. It doesn’t make sense.
3. He’s too stupid to understand it. (he said it, not me.)
1. It’s boring.
A few commenters added their own thoughts:
1. Poetry takes time—they’re short, but require contemplation—and nobody has time. (thanks to emrw)
2. Their 10th grade English teacher destroyed all possibility of enjoying poetry.
3. Lots of poetry seems like “nose-in-the-air-difficult-philosophical-clap-trap.”
4. Nobody likes to be looked down on.
(Thank you sonofwalt for these final three.
By the way, sonofwalt says of number six, “This is one of my reasons for attempting to bring people back to it (poetry) afresh, when they can be encouraged to find something pleasurable about the whole experience. I cannot recall who said this, but I like the idea, ‘A poet’s purpose is to help people enjoy their everyday lives.’”
I agree. If poetry does not help people, what good is it?
Getting back to the above observations, I would like to take them on one-by-one to try to demystify the whole poetry experience or realign the misconstrued ideas of poetry and poets.
But, first, I want to reveal a few secrets of my own and these might stun the normal earthlings.
As a poet, I can completely relate to every single one of these.
My first secret:
I hate poetry, too.
Well, some of it.
I hate goobery poetry. (insert your own definition.) I hate rainbow poems unless they’re for kids or all in fun. I hate bubble bath poetry. I hate reading a poem and feeling like I need to scrape the sentiment off with a spatula.
It took me the longest time to figure out why. I think it’s because some poems just don’t ring true. A love poem can be beautiful but it must sound sincere and authentic. Not contrived.
A lamenting poem can also be beautiful. But, it too must be sincere and not feel contrived or forced.
I hate feeling like I’m being preached to. Even though I profess to be a Christian, I don’t want to read poems that pounds a fist at me. I can go to church for some preaching. But, not all preachy poems are religious. Some are political or cultural. Show me some vulnerability, not piousness. I don’t like poems that bash people, unless it is metaphor for something evil.
I hate hate poetry.
I hate ambling poems. Most times simple is best. Yet, I have been guilty of the ambling poem.
My second secret:
I don’t sit around reading poetry all day. I do read a lot of poetry, but I don’t always enjoy it. When I connect with a poem, I feel a release. So, I wade through the ones that for me, this day, do not resonate with me, and I look for that gem pours into my soul.
I know I’ve found one when I hear an audible gasp and realize it’s me.
My third secret:
I don’t always get it either. Sometimes I’ll read a poem four or five times and just think to myself, I’m either really stupid or this doesn’t say anything.
And sometimes it’s both. But, sometimes, it’s because of where I am at in my life vs. where the poet is at in his/her life.
~ ~ ~
I hope by revealing my secrets, showing a bit of weakness, you can see that poets are real humans. Real earthlings. Maybe not normal, but that is worthy of debate, too.
So, tell me, writer/poet/ reader–what secrets do you harbor that you could share with the non-poet that might help to build a bridge with them?
I’ll list them and link back to you.