Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Poetry--Do You Like It Or Avoid It?

I was at a PEO meeting the other morning. I've given several programs for my chapter of this all-female group that promotes education for women in the form of several scholarships. My programs, of course, have been about writing. I've encouraged the ladies in the group to write their family stories, and I've read them some of my own.

While we were having coffee and yummies, one of the ladies asked me if I might consider doing a program on poetry at some future meeting. "You do write poetry, don't you?" she asked. I told her that yes, I do write poetry and have even had a little success at having a few of my poems published.

"I really like poetry," she said, "and I think more people would like it if they gave it a chance."

Her statement made me think about why some people enjoy poetry and others avoid it at all costs. In high school, we were forced to read and try to interpret poetry that sometimes didn't make much sense. I'd read the poem, make a desperate attempt at figuring out what the poet was telling us, only to learn I was way off base when the teacher explained it to us. Have that happen often enough, and I suspect many of us did, and you'll learn to avoid reading poetry. I sometimes wondered if the object of the poet was to confuse readers.

Some people might think it's too 'flowery' and sweet. "Makes me gag." I heard one teen-ager say after reading a love poem. "I can't relate to this." said another. Maybe many of us feel that way, that we can't relate. But everyone can find some poetry they will like, but it takes some searching.

But what are the reasons that some people do read and enjoy poetry? For one thing, it's definitely a quicker read than a full-length book. It brings forth strong images and uses language in the best possible way. It can teach a lesson in a very few words or touch the heart. There is beauty in poetry but not everyone sees it.

I would hope that those who were turned off by poetry in their shool days might try reading it again. There are many small books of poetry that would serve as perfect bedtime reading.

A man in our community has written eight novels with a western theme, but he's also written a couple of books of poetry. His poems nearly all are based on something or someone in Kansas.

I know another man who is a contractor by profession, but he also writes wonderful poetry. He sponsors a Youth Poetry Contest every year in conjunction with our Kansas Authors annual writing contest. The winners are invited to the Awards Ceremony Luncheon and are asked to read their entries. I've been quie impressed with some of the winning young poets. Maybe they're doing a better job of teaching poetry in school now. I hope so.

The next time you go to a bookstore, browse in the poetry section. There are all kinds of poems written on all kinds of subjects. Surely, you can find one that appeals to you.

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