Let’s talk about poetry

I’ve recently started to consider how absent poetry feels in the world of literary criticism.  There’s such a high volume of poetry being published, but so much of it never gets reviewed, and when it is the reviewer isn’t skilled enough to make a judgment other than a positive one.  I’m not sure why this is.  And then I hear about people who just don’t like poetry.  I’ve heard excuses—from just not understanding poetry to reasoning that it’s too dramatic or wordy.  You’d think that given all the books of poetry out there people would find at least something to connect with.  But poetry as an art form is so misunderstood that its meaning is completely lost to those who never connected with it to begin with.

I feel that connection because I’ve always enjoyed writing it.  Although people might not have the gift of writing, there are messages to be heard in the “good” poetry that speaks to so many different aspects of life.  That the world can just dismiss this kind of understanding is, perhaps, ignorant. I think that part of the problem stems from education, and that most students were introduced to poetry in high school.  They didn’t get a choice in picking the poems they read and they also didn’t get a choice in how to interpret them.  This is simply the result of most teachers failing to stimulate the creativity it takes inside the classroom to have a proper discussion.

Poetry might also get a bad rap because of the academic poets who keep it continually circling among other academic poets.  Of course I’m not looking for the drug addicted Allen Ginsberg of 2011, but it would sure be nice if I found him.  Poetry is allowed to get out of the box.  Poetry can be addicted and frantic and border line crazy as long as it’s creating a meaning for life that otherwise would not exist without the poet.  I’ve read a TON of boring poetry from academic types who write an entire collection containing only a couple of good poems.  I’m at fault, then, for not recognizing my disinterest and going out to find something that inspires me.  Unlike fiction, good poetry isn’t jumping off the shelves or sitting in the best seller pile at Barnes and Noble’s.  Poetry waits to be discovered by people who extend themselves beyond their limits and actually look for it.

Another issue is the way academics schedule long and boring poetry readings.  Everyone is encouraged to bring a poem they’ve written and then get up in front of the crowd to read it out loud.  People, i.e. more academics, are expected to come out and listen.  It’s a snooze, I’ve been there.  How about incorporating other forms of poetry into the mix, changing things up and getting people interested.  The poetry read at these events needs to inspire others to fall in love with poetry.  Unless you’re a professionally published poet, nobody is going to have any interest in the twelve different poems you’ve brought to read about your break-up with your boyfriend.  Read me Ginsberg, read me Neruda, read me Frost, and then read me the poem that you’ve written inspired by these works.

Every time we’ve had a reading I’ve always come with my guitar and stirred the pot because I don’t like putting my words out there without music.  My music is my poetry, and song lyrics are poetry, along with slam poetry and interpretive dance, which are forms that should be included in these poetry readings.  Poetry is so much more then what we make it because it requires a different kind of creativity than most of us are used to.  How we change the direction of poetry and breathe some life back into everything it has to offer is entirely up to us.  Who is us?  It’s you.

-Autumn Walck


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