Poetry generates reaction by the simple utterance of the term. It carries the baggage of bad high school literature classes, where curriculum dictates, then force-feeds students, particular, famous or notable poets that may not resonate with individual readers. Furthermore, students in such classes must attempt to write their own poem within a required form (e.g. iambic pentameter, haiku, sonnet, rhyme schemes, etc.) that oft times restrict the creativity of the writer by virtue of forcing strict adherence to meter (counting syllables, accents, etc.), alliteration, metaphor, and the like. So, like anything crammed down the throat, the response is visceral. Of course, that does not mean that everyone detest poetry. Many, myself included, love the power of language in any form. Still, poetry carries a reputation, often one of elitism or of irrelevance.
What is missing, it seems, connection of poetry as a genre to its power. Everything from sharing stories of heroes to political protest to professions of love can be captured in poetry. Why? Like song lyrics, they become memorable (even if poorly written), because poems possess a rhythm that helps the words take root in the mind. Further, the symbolic nature of language, captures, pictures, and places in the mind a message that may “seen’” as well as felt. That stated, those high school classes that attempted to demonstrate poetic forms did so as a means to present the purpose, power, and potential of verse to move the reader – emotionally or literally toward action.
Unlike the novel, short story, and prose in general, poems tend to tell a tale with very few, well-chosen words. The words selected should be evocative, provocative, and in someway connect the reader to the writer – not as a unilateral message (i.e. the correct interpretation), but as a connection of share understanding or experience. That is, there should be an experiential quality present. Put another way, you should get it because you feel it – you “know.”
As a poet, I am rather disinclined to follow particular structured forms. I am unlikely to write a sonnet, create heptameter, use a set rhyming pattern, and so forth. I tend to be minimalist. Yet even as a minimalist, narrative is possible; hence, my goal is to tell a story. I find it liberating to deconstruct a scene, memory, a dialogue and simplify it. My goal: share the emotional experience, the demons lurking in my head (so the can prey upon others), and speak the silence of repression. My other goal is to free readers from the canonized, presumed “classics,” and stuffiness of poetry. Sounds like a contrary idea – love poetry/hate poetry. Yet, it important to say “lots of poems suck,” and many poems exist in places that are ignored, they await discovery.
If you ask me who my favorite poets are, please do not expect me to mention Shakespeare, Blake, or Keats. Those guys have a certain beauty, but they are nowhere near my favorites. If you ask me, and really want to know my favorites, I will share that with anyone; however, that is not my point here. I don’t wish to imply that writer I prefer comprise the list of the better poets. All I desire in this post is to voice a perspective on poetry.
Poetry by its very nature should be fully experiential, create imagery, becoming visceral and evocative of emotion. That is my perspective. My poetry, my words, all emerges from my experience in the world and I hope to capture meaning and share it with readers. I write poems in a manner that they can be spoken aloud. Words shared. Hopefully, I am successful.
My poetry collection Undone contains verse that may be considered love poetry or erotic poetry. I consider it a story of sorts. Judge for yourself. I welcome your feedback.