Ew, David. Poetry. But what is it about poems that make them so special?
It’s Valentine’s Day weekend — the time to celebrate all kinds of love in our lives. Traditional gifts for V-Day include cards, roses, chocolate, stuffed animals — and poetry.
Now hear me out before you go running for the hills. I’m not going to make you write a poem (unless you want to, of course). I am not even going to make you read one.
I’m simply here to make the case for why poetry is easy to love — even if you aren’t much of a literary type, or even much of a reader.
(Note: if the word “poetry” freaks you out, try replacing it when you read with the word “doggereltry”. It is more fun to say, slightly made up, and perhaps not weighted down with pre-conceived terrors.)
- Poetry is usually short (more like reading a Tweet than a novel),
- Modern poetry if often “free verse” (think sentences, with not much rhyming),
- Good poetry is made up of mostly pictures (well, word pictures).
Poetry is short
None of us has much of an attention span anymore– it’s a fact.
Poetry hits the the sweet spot of quality writing while also not asking for a long commitment.
Free Verse makes it easier
Remember learning about iambic pentameter whilst reading Romeo & Juliet freshman year? Yeah, well screw that. Nothing against Shakespeare or your high school English teacher, but there’s ALOT more to life (and doggereltry) than rhyming couplets and counting syllables.
Free verse gives poets freedom to create a structure that matches the meaning and tone of the poem they are writing.
Yes — there’s still gonna be some meat on those bones. But when you read it, you aren’t going to be hindered by it. Instead, good structure in free verse allows the poem’s structure to unfold and serve you along the way. And so often makes re-reading it even more and more meaningful.
What you read is what you see
When you read a poem, you will see a slice of the world unfolding. It can be like traveling somewhere else.
Rooms, furniture, leaves at the end of branches, the texture of skin– all of these images are the core of what poetry gives to the reader.
Poetry immerses you in a moment and makes you see it. And then you feel it. And then, it can maybe even changes how you feel about the world.
Is that why so many people get nervous about poetry? I wonder. Maybe people don’t want to be changed?
Here’s a poem to read, if you feel like it. It’s one of my favorites.