I don’t like poetry.
Strike that; I didn’t like poetry.
My tastes have evolved (or matured) and similarly to how I can now tolerate spicier kimchee, I can now appreciate poetry without zoning out, rolling my eyes, and declaring it pretentious [READ: me, insecure].
The first poetry I learned was formulaic, haikus and such, taught in grade school. The writing process for a poem felt forced and constricting and I preferred the long-winded approach. Why tell a story on one page when you could use two? Journalism school [before the internet, replete with unlimited characters] instilled in me much-needed lessons on word selection and constriction.
Deciphering poems always felt so labor intensive and often required a dictionary. I love metaphors as much as the next guy but if I have to dissect every couplet, my brain tires.
I had a cousin living in Russia who would send me poetry every year I was in elementary school for my birthday. Written using complicated Russian words outside my rudimentary Russian proficiency, I stared at my dad as stood up to read it, because this caliber of art commanded the respect of being vertical.
The first poem which convinced me I could like poetry was Charles Bukowski’s I am a Writer. It resonated with me intensely, transcended the writing genre. Bukowski was like my gateway drug to poetry; I inhaled everything he wrote, completely antithetical to every poem I read up until this point. I couldn’t say I didn’t like poetry anymore. Bukowski was the anti-pretension; he was raw, potent, gripping, and easy to digest.
My husband, the artist, has notebooks filled with poems. He used to write one a day. In our early dating days, he’d shift the romance into overdrive by whipping out the poetry books late at night as I was drifting off to sleep in his bed. He’d read through his old notebooks, or maybe they were famous Keats or Cummings poems, but I didn’t know the difference; they could have been Italian. He read them quickly, reciting to an imaginary melody or rhythm in his head. I wanted to fall in love with him even more as he professed his love through poetic verse after verse and instead, I rolled my eyes as far back as they went and fell asleep.
That is until he started writing poems about me. This caught my attention, my gaze, and my heart.
6 thoughts on ““I Didn’t Like Poetry” Club”
Aw, I’m happy you have learned to like poetry. If done correctly, it can be quite fulfilling both of for the poet and the reader. 💕
Yes … and in my wedding vows, I even agreed to use e.e. cummings’ “i carry your heart.”
Poets like Bukowski have opened the world of poetry to many who resisted the old “need to interpret” school. Robert Browning, once asked what a particular poem meant, reportedly answered, “When I wrote that poem only God and I knew what it meant. Now only God knows.” In my memoir I wrote, “Some pieces may look like poems, but please don’t let that deter you from reading them.” Maybe we can some day break down the prejudice against poetry.
Beautiful post. Everything you write is poetry to me. Poetry is only good when you can relate, when the words paint the picture so clearly in your mind, you can smell it.
You help me breathe in the smell of life and love everyday!
Good – send me a blow back when I’m panicking! xoxoxo