Secrets from a Poet

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.

12 thoughts on “Secrets from a Poet

  1. I think one secret is that a lot of people would get more from poetry if they read it out loud and followed the rhythm the words naturally make. Poetry was meant to be spoken out loud, or sung, as they said in the old days.

    My litmus test for poetry is its readability. Does it sing? If it moves you when read out loud it’s probably poetry. If it falls to the floor and you stand there saying, “What, I don’t get it,” it is very likely not poetry but a mess.

    I’m glad you brought this topic up. Looking forward to more here.

    1. Your analogy is dead on– “If it falls to the floor . . . ” Alas, I am but human and have written my fair share of messes on the floor. But, I do love reading/hearing the ones that sing. Thank you for your insight. I love hearing all angles of this discussion.

  2. I think it can be helpful for those who “don’t get/like/want” poetry to gently come to see that, at least the “poetic,” they probably watch for a lot…the shape of a fine fruit at the grocery, the sound or movement of breeze in leaves, the arrangement of hair of their beloved, what children do to sky when they laugh. Those sorts of things – the startling movement in the forms of the world that make us hesitate, take notice, receive or attend in ways we don’t always do? Then, with poetry, in a slow learn, we might cease listening for meaning or cadence even…but for something subtler and wholistically tied to our lives…? Just a thought

    1. This is beautifully stated. But, then, you have a poet’s eye. It’s evident in how you wrote this. Here you speak of poetry in nature, in the visual, without words. I completely agree. People might see “the poetic.” The poem, then, in essence, captures that snapshot without a visual, and stimulates the imagination to recall or reflect or remorph that image into something else. I love your insight.

  3. sometime I feel this way and somtimes I feel to blame for not liking something, if it was written yesturday or a 100 or more years ago. Maybe I should like it but I dont. Some very good points

    1. There is definately a problem with archaic language. I also have that issue and feel overwhelmed trying to decipher some obscure poet’s writings. Thank you for your comments.

  4. I was excited to see that you had done an update on this topic, and low and behold you quote me! For that I thank you. But more thanks are due you because of how well I myself identify with all three of your (former) secrets. And I confess to also having had moments where I hated what I wrote for one or more of those same three reasons.

    Good stuff! Thank you.

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