So it’s the first Sunday in April and I’m not going to lie to you. I am writing this from earlier in the week, because as you read this I am actually going to be lounging by the pool at my aunt’s house in Florida. Don’t be jealous, because we’re going to talk about poetry!
What, poetry isn’t just as good as lounging by a pool? What if I promise to read poetry by the pool? Sounds like paradise to me!
I spend a lot of time talking about poetry on the internet. Somewhere along the way, it became my crusade to convince people to read poetry and now even I read it more than I did. (I walk the walk!) I think there is a certain misplaced gravitas associated with poetry. Poetry is always heavy, always difficult, always a challenge. Poetry is something you have to work hard to read. It’s not something you can just enjoy, it has to mean something.
Except I don’t believe that for a second.
Like any form, the world of poetry is vast. There are important, meaningful poems that are difficult to read. Moby Dick wasn’t easy to read, either. But there are just as many poems that are not a challenge. They can be beautiful, simple, silly. Poetry can be anything.
When you attack poetry with your highlighters and your literary terms and your symbols, we often forget one simple thing: to just hear the poem. Listen to it. See how it feels when you say it, when someone else says it, when you read it.
We learn how to analyze poems, but not how to love them. That’s a shame, because it’s not really so hard. You just have to find what you like. Maybe you’re like me and you love a little bit of everything. Or maybe you don’t, maybe you only love poems intended for children, or poems that rhyme, or sonnets, or free verse, or blank verse, or… well, I think you get the idea.
For me, the key to learning to love reading poetry was learning to write it. I was fortunate enough to have a teacher who believed that the easiest way to learn about sonnets was to write a sonnet. Playing with language yourself helps you recognize when other people do it.
How did you learn to love poetry? Do you think that being taught to write poetry as a young adult would have made you more interested in it? What would have gotten you interested in poetry?