Poets are weird?
And this coming from a college-aged artist of all people. What is she thinking? That we all have round hippy glasses and long beards? That we sit in the lotus position and eat beetles? Heck, I don’t even have a tattoo.
“This is why you won’t read poetry?” I asked. “Because you think poets are weird?”
“They are often too weird.”
Now that hurt.
“And poetry has different boundaries than other things like math. Anyone can write a poem and call themselves a poet.”
“Yeah . . . they could,” I said stroking my beard.
“And people don’t read it because it’s overdone. There’s too much poetry in the world. Teachers make kids write it. They don’t make kids write novels, they make them write poetry and then decipher other’s poems to find the deep meaning. Nobody likes doing that.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that a few times.”
So who or what is the culprit?
Someone or something ruined poetry for the masses. Now, I’m not real bright but I keep seeing a poetic finger pointing at teachers.
So, I cornered one for some answers and got lucky. I found one that’s both an art teacher and an English teacher.
“Hmmmm.” Even she had to think about it. “Why people hate poetry. I don’t know. Could it be because it makes one think? Is it because it reminds them of English class? Or, could it be because old poetry is so hard to read sometimes that people just don’t want to think?”
Isn’t it just like a teacher to answer a question with a trio of questions? Did I have to answer her questions now in order to receive her direct answer? I chomped a few beetles and pondered this then just decided to turn her questions into declarative sentences. No surprise that her answer translated into the same old same old. (Now this is getting boring.)
It was time to ask someone from the younger generation who might have a different perspective—a nerdy junior higher. He said, “Because the simple ones are boring and the complicated ones are too hard to interpret.” Now we are getting somewhere. Someone who can at least differentiate between genres. Kind of.
I needed another non-poet male opinion.
“There are two kinds of poetry,” This twenty-something male said without hesitating.“The kind you can’t understand and you gotta read it more than twice to understand it. This is why women don’t like it. Or it’s corny if you can understand it. Like roses are red violets are blue . . . and this is why men don’t like it.”
Whoa, slow down there, buddy. “Poetry is for girls,” he said. “That’s why men don’t like it.”
Men don’t like it? Really? I readjusted my lotus legs.
Am I sensing a misogynist here? I needed some lavender essential oils. ASAP. Who was this guy? I checked his facebook status. It says freelance writer. I think he might be teasing.
Poetry: gender specific?
But, he had me wondering. Is that the general consensus? That poetry is for girls? That females can’t understand it?
If I took what he said at face value-poetry is for girls and girls can’t understand it . . . let’s see from my philosophy classes If A (poetry is for girls) and B (girls can’t understand it) then we could conclude C: poetry can’t exist. I’m smelling a fallacy here.
I took a few cleansing breaths realizing I needed to ask someone with maturity and wisdom. Someone . . . just a teensy bit older than me.
“I like poetry,” she said. “My husband doesn’t.” Then in a dreamy voice, “I had a boyfriend who used to write me poetry.” Ah, I felt that longing. My pretzel knees were doing their job. I was sensing so deeply, so deeply I felt compelled to scribble a poem about lost love—maybe a cinquain.
“But, my guess is that poetry makes men out to be sissies. They’re afraid to like it.” She didn’t say that’s what she thought, but it was what she thought men thought.
Huh? Again with the gender issue. In two separate generations, two separate genders. Where did this idea come from? This has never been a part of my thinking. But, it adds a mess to the question–why people don’t like poetry.
I think I’ll chew on this a while. (but first spit out the beetles.)
Have you heard this before? And what do you think about the statement that poets are weird? Next time I’ll explore what other poets have been saying. If you have any additional thoughts, please share them.