January — Read More Blog More! A Poetry Event

Since it is officially Tuesday, January 31st somewhere, I’m going to go ahead and publish this post now. I accidentally scheduled two posts to go up on the 31st, so I apologize in advance if you had any difficulty finding your way here! For this first month of the Read More/Blog More Poetry Event, I wanted to share with you why poetry is so important to me.

I found a love of poetry the way most high schoolers do: by writing it. Yes, my high school poems were angsty. I’m the first to admit that. They were often about who didn’t ask me to Junior Prom and family drama and all sorts of things that I’d probably be embarrassed to share with you now. Each year that I wrote poetry, from age 13 on, I also read more poetry. I read more poetry by other teenagers who were writing it, I read more classic poetry, I read more contemporary poetry. I was obsessed with it, and I still am, though perhaps not as fervently as I was in high school.

In a lot of ways, it’s difficult to explain what about poetry makes me so obsessed. There is, of course, the use of the English language in unexpected and clever ways. That is certainly part of it. There are the poems that describe something in a way you’ve never thought of before. I do enjoy that. Then there are the poems that tell a story and I love those as well. None of that, though, really describes what it is about poetry that I love so much.

It’s hard to get into a discussion of poetry without falling into the trap of comparing it to other forms of literature. Poetry is not like a short story and it is not like a novel. It is the concentration of story, language, mood, theme into a small package. Let’s forget about epic poems right now and just think of poetry being everything that a novel or short story is in only a few lines. There are whole stories behind poems, but the poet only lets us glimpse this tiny peek. How much of the whole story we are able to glean from those sparse words is totally up to us and what the poet will let us see.

More than anything, poetry has always been a kind of therapy for me. Reading it, sharing it, writing it has meant a lot to me over the years, through moments of great happiness and sorrow. Reading poetry can often be like recognizing yourself in a character in novel, but instead between the lines of a poem. It’s a way to feel like you are part of something.

Poetry can be beautiful, it can be bad, it can be life-changing. If anything I hope this project will bring people who are already avid readers of poetry closer to the poems they read and I hope it will bring those who are trying to read more poetry the same kind of life-changing connection that reading an amazing book can.

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Thank you for reading and, hopefully, participating in today’s Read More/Blog More Poetry Event! Please link to your post using the Mr. Linky below.

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18 thoughts on “January — Read More Blog More! A Poetry Event

  1. You’re so right: poetry offers a story, just like a novel. I never knew that until I started trying to write it.It always just seemed like pretty words to me — but it is so much more!

    Like everything else literary, I didn’t really develop an appreciation for poetry until I began my classics project (2010.) A writer friend of mine suggested that I write poetry as a way to fine-tune my prose-writing in early 2009; there’s where my love affair with poetry began. 🙂

    Since then I’ve written many poems — as both an exercise in writing, and as therapy.

    (My post for this event will be live tomorrow morning.)

    Thanks for hosting, Lu!

  2. I read pitifully little poetry and so joined this event as a push to get me started … At this point, I don’t have the connection with it that you talk about. Let’s see where the year takes us …. and me!

  3. I came to poetry as a teen, too, but like so many other readers I have lost touch with it later in life. I love what you say about it being a small package of everything we love about literature. I’m sad that I won’t be able to join in this month (I NEVER have posts that need to go up on a certain day except today, with the Wrinkle in Time tour. Sad face.), but I’m looking forward to reading something for next month.

  4. I talked about how one of my old favorites has new meaning in light of another poem and novel I read recently. I just hope the old favorite is not too off-putting for people, because it’s by a “difficult” poet.

  5. Funny story re: angsty poetry… I actually zip-dashed off a poem for my ‘other’ blog and the comments were all “DID YOU WRITE THIS IN HS?!” and so I was too embarrassed that I wrote it as a 40+ yo…

    Anyway, I’ll think up something for today.

  6. This is such a good idea to get people reading and talking about poetry more. It has been personal goal of mine to start reading more poetry over the past year. As I remember loving it so much when I was a child/teenager but like a lot of people I lost touch with that love as I grew up.

    I’m afraid I don’t think I will have the time to commit to joining in with the monthly posts, but will be keeping a close eye on this page from now on for inspiration.

  7. I was introduced to poetry in high school and turned off to it by a lousy English lit teacher. Luckily I rediscovered it through friends and have heard many poets read. I’ve even written a bit myself. I plan on sharing a favorite poet each month. I am amazed by the breadth and variety of thought and feeling expressed in language, how an entire world can be brought to life in just a few lines. Thanks so much for organizing this, Lu.

  8. I am happy to see people joining in! My post is up. I accidentally saved it as draft yesterday instead of posting it. Oops!

    I actually really do not like poetry. There was this one time in High School where we were discussing what a poem was about and I saw something different than the rest of the class. Needless to say the teacher thought I was nuts and told me I was wrong. That basically turned me off poetry for a while.

  9. Yay! I’m so excited that you guys are hosting this. Hopefully will be lots of fun. 🙂 And I had to smile at your comments about writing poetry–totally echoes my responses to your questions (or perhaps my responses echo this post). I totally wrote angsty teenage poetry that I’d be embarrassed to show anyone now. but I continue to hold on to it…

  10. I was a poet in high school, but then in college, I really found what I thought was my “calling” when I had a contemporary poetry class. Then I had a poetry writing class and poetry was never the same for me. No more Helen Steiner Rice, but only the “pure” stuff for me. Yep, I became, and am, a poetry snob. I’m glad this challenge is around for me to explore more poetry (the good stuff of course ;)).

  11. Okay, so I’ve already discovered like seven new-to-me poets–thanks for hosting this awesome event! I’m having a great time reading everyone’s posts.

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