So I'm going to talk about something I really don't know all that much about: poetry. I think it's because of the post Jan Worth-Nelson, author of Night Blind, put up on her blog a few days ago. It got me thinking about my own relationship with poetry and how that relationship developed, or more accurately, how it failed to develop.
I love words.
I love short stories and novels.
I love writing.
If you know me in real life or have followed this blog for any length of time, this should come as no surprise. Only someone who has a passion for the written word would spend hours and weeks and months of their lives attempting to create stories of their own. Only someone who has a passion for the unique kind of entertainment found in a book would admit to having a reading problem like some people have a drinking problem.
Yet, I've never liked poetry unless it could be found in books like Where the Sidewalk Ends. Oh, sure, there are random exceptions to this rule. I quite enjoy Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven. So much so that I find myself reciting the first couple of lines every now and again. There's also a poem about being a Christian that I quite enjoy.
But that's pretty much it. The intricacies of poetry escape me if they aren't telling me a story I can almost imagine as prose.
Why, though? Why would somone who professes to love language be turned off by poetry? It doesn't makes sense.
Well, I have a theory.
I'm basically blaming it my public school education. Although we were forced to read poetry by people like Keats and Byron, we never got into modern poetry. Not once that I can recall. While I understand the historical signifigance of the creation and publication of poems like an Ode on a Grecian Urn and She Walks in Beauty, these poems did not lure me into the world of poets and poetry.
What if my teachers would have brought in the art of poets like Margaret Atwood or any of the other people listed on famouspoetsandpoems.com. Mind you, I have no idea if any of these poets or their poetry would have changed my initial impression of poetry, but the possibility definitely exists. Perhaps one of them would have opened my eyes to the power and persuasion to be found in stanzas instead of paragraphs.
This realization has come about only because I've taken to attending open mics at local bookstores. It seems open mics draw poets more than prose writers. At first, I was a bit disappointed, but by the end of my first open mic session I found myself thinking long and hard on the political and social commentary to be found in the spoken word poetry I had heard. I also realized there were many talented people I may have never given a second thought to if I hadn't decided to sit in on one of those sessions.
Going back to the lack of exposure in the average public school system, I realize the type of poetry that may actually grab a teenager's attention likely wouldn't be allowed inside the classroom. Can you imagine a student taking home a poem that their parents found offensive or controversial? Or one that contains cursing or references to drugs and alcohol being read aloud in a high school classroom? Can you imagine them bringing in artists like those found on the SpokenWorks Inc website? I can already hear the public outcry.
Yet, by sticking to the safe and sanitary, are they creating a generation that has little to no exposure to a powerful form of expression? I certainly think so.
This, of course, means if I want my kids exposed to spoken word poetry or more contemporary poems, I'm going to have to be their teacher. I'm going to have to introduce them to a world I'm only just discovering for myself.