Poetry has, for a very long time, been a really hard sell. People have countless misconceptions about poetry, and more often than not, those opinions lead them away from ever really getting into it. Now, with our world of smart phones and bad “reality” TV, people are moving even further away from it, and anyone who even mentions having written poetry is scoffed at and treated like they have some sort of plague.
Maybe it’s the dreary poetry they often have you read in school. Maybe it’s the idea that poetry is what goes inside lame Hallmark cards. Maybe it’s the more modern idea that only suicidal “emo” people write poetry. It could be a lot of things that keep people from reading poetry, but all in all it’s a shame that it’s not given more of a chance.
Of course, poetry isn’t just a hard racket because of the lack of appreciative readership. It’s also difficult because of other writers. Many people have absolute, rock-solid traditional ideas of what makes “good” poetry. They believe in strictly following a known set of rules and never deviating. They think poetry must be written on purpose with all of those rules in mind. There are also people who think that traditional ways are killing poetry, so they go so far out of the box that there work is hard to distinguish from random thought or plain text. Heaven forbid you ever let another poet critique your work. Nine times out of ten they’re going to tell you that you got it “wrong”.
The thing is, there really isn’t so much right or wrong in poetry. It’s supposed to give you greater freedom of expression than prose or other forms of writing, that’s kind of the whole idea. It allows you to express intense emotion or visuals without being confined by traditional grammar and sentence structure. Now, I do think some people’s poetry barely qualifies as such, but that’s my opinion. If it looks too much like prose, it probably is. If it only has three lines, it’s not a real poem. But again, those are my opinions.
The real point is that people need to try reading more poetry, and I firmly believe more people should try writing it. It’s sad that the emo culture gets a bad rap, because linking them (or the meaning behind their label) to poetry isn’t far off, and that’s a good thing. Poetry is supposed to be emotional. It’s supposed to make you feel something. Contrary to popular belief, that something isn’t always suicidal depression. Poetry can depict love, hate, joy, pain, sadness, humor or any number of other things. Reading and writing poetry can connect you on a deeper level to many emotions.
I know as a writer of poetry that it’s hard to convince people to read poetry. However, when I have gotten people to take a look, they can connect to my work and get to know me on a very deep level through my words. It’s a wonderful thing. I do sometimes feel badly that most of my poetry expresses the pain of my earlier years, and that can cause people to experience that pain, but there is a certain joy in the knowledge that I can get them to feel, and to see through someone else’s eyes.
If you have no experience of poetry, go out and try some. You can probably find some of the old “masters” out there in the library. You can look for free stuff on Kindle and Nook too. Try all sorts of poetry while you’re at it. You may not like one style but will fall in love with another. Open yourself to what poetry may have to offer. If you’re a writer, it’s also wise to learn many styles. After you learn them, throw them out and write however makes you feel like you’re putting a piece of your soul onto the paper. That’s what truly makes a great poet, and makes poetry worthwhile for the reader.
Oh, and if you’re wanting to give my work a try, all my work can be found in the Books section of the blog. I’m also planning on releasing a massive collection sometime very soon.