Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Who Likes Poetry?

Roses are red,
violets are blue.
Sugar is sweet,
and so are you

The poem above (author unknown) is one of the first that grade school kids are exposed to.  It's romantic. It's corny. It's easy to remember.It's easy to change the final lines to suit your own needs. And it's a fun read. Kids like it.

So, why do so many people claim they don't like poetry once they reach adulthood? Is it because those nasty English teachers required so many poems to be memorized? Is it because the poetry the teachers  assigned  was difficult to understand? Were Shakespeare's plays, written in prose poetry, what turned them off at a young age? Could be all of this and more.

I like poetry much better since I can choose to read it. Maybe being forced to read it in school is a factor for those who end up disliking it. Poetry always drew me in, but I confess I had a hard time understanding a great deal of it. There are even many poems I read today that leave me with that "Huh?" comment swirling through my mind. But that's only occasionally. I'd like to think that I've grown in my appreciation for poetry, whether it be rhymed verse, free verse or haiku. 

After I started writing stories, essays and articles, I ventured into writing poetry. Oh, I didn't sit down and write poem after poem, but when something truly moved me, I found poetry a good outlet. I've used it to explore both things that pleased me and those that left me feeling bereft. It's also a fine way to vent your feelings on many things in life. 

Am I a great poet? Far from it. Have I written any poems worth of publication? Yes, I've had a few published, even one first place in a contest. But I've also written some real stinkers. Filled with corn and cliches. Still, there are several I'm proud of. A poetry presentation at a writers conference got me interested in trying my hand at haiku, and I found them to be great fun to write. 

How about you? When you see poetry, do you skip quickly to something else? Or do you take time to read it? I find that reading a poem once and moving on is not the best way to appreciate a poet's words. Read it through more than once. Sometimes, you see more the second, third or fourth time. 

If you still don't know what the poet is talking about, maybe it's not you, the reader. Instead, maybe that poet wrote only for herself about past happenings that no reader could know about. You don't have to like all poems. You don't like all short stories or all movies either. But give poetry a chance. And once you've learned to read it with pleasure, try your hand at writing some yourself. Your first effort might end up like the Roses are red... poem, but keep working at it and you might surprise yourself. 

Google 'learning to appreciate poetry' if you need more detailed help in enjoying poetry.

6 comments:

  1. Hi Nanc.

    Thank you for this. Poetry appreciation is an acquired thing for most ppl. Unless you have it ingrained from your earliest underpinnings by someone other than your teacher perhaps. Someone expressive, who possessed a deep appreciation for it themselves, who could stir the passion that poetry prompts within, and relay that to others.

    My love of poetry was stirred by one such individual in life...my mother. I was very fortunate to have this to carry me through my life. When she was no longer there, I had this great emotional bond w/her from her efforts in sharing this deep personal part of herself w/me as a small child. Poetry is an entire universe. To me, it's everything that life is; the good, bad, the most moving and meaningful.

    I love writing it, and also reading good poetry from others. I have learned more about the world and people from reading poetry than any other resource.

    I hope the smouldering embers of poetry will get carried by the sharp winds of curiosity...to then ignite the flame of passion in one soul, from reading your article today. Poetry can be the flame that burns throughout a lifetime to inspire, teach, refresh, heal, and live on for future generations.

    You do all poets a great service today. Thank you.

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  2. Many thanks for your inspiring comment, to me and to others, I hope. When you wrote, "I hope the smouldering embers of poetry will get carried by the sharp winds of curiosity...to then ignite the flame of passion in one soul, from reading your article today. Poetry can be the flame that burns throughout a lifetime to inspire, teach, refresh, heal, and live on for future generations." it was easy to see that you are a poet and have a love of words.

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  3. I've never considered myself much of a poet, but I love listening to poets read there work. That's an attractive part of poetry that you don't find as much in prose work -- the readings! There are several poets in my writing group and they have inspired me to try my hand at some verse. All word play is fun, as far as I'm concerned. It's a good challenge to get some fresh images into my writing and also good for when I don't have that huge chunk of time I'd like to devote to something bigger, but would still like to spend some time writing.

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  4. Tracy--nice to know you also like poetry and have tried to write some, too.

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  5. I have won national acclaim with my poem about my deceased mother and father

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    1. I would love to read your poem, Sandy.

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