I have a complicated relationship with poetry.
I won’t go into specifics, but I’ve never understood the great capitalised concept of Poetry, and I’ve never really understood why I should have to. Can’t poetry just be words on a page? Something we write when we need a way to spill our thoughts? Why does everything have to have a hidden meaning?
GCSE English, I’m looking at you.
I’ve written some terrible poems in my time, but also some I’m proud of.
Poems can have different effects on different people. They can make you angry, sad, happy, confused…
Pick an emotion, I’ll find you a poem. I mean not me, personally, I have things to do. The world at large will find you a poem for it.
To an extent, I suppose my question is this: what constitutes poetry? Can true poetry only be the written stuff with often dodgy rhyming that they throw at you in school and tell you that the myriad meanings behind digging for potatoes are of paramount importance? Can’t poetry just be the thing that makes you feel?
If people can say that some random dude scoring a mildly impressive goal in a football game that some people care about more than they care about their own families is poetry in motion, then I can say that the feeling I got the first time I single-based someone in cheerleading is poetry.
If hope is the thing with feathers, poetry can be the thing with scales. The thing underwater that drags you under and swirls around your head and makes you forget which way is up.
Alfred J Prufrock measured out his life in coffee spoons, and I’m measuring mine in overpriced coffees and tight hugs and Skype calls and laughter.
I could quote a thousand poems that have meant something to me, and a thousand whose supposed deep emotional meaning has completely passed me by.
Poetry is when we’re flying running screaming laughing crying bleeding hoping breathing.
This poem doesn’t rhyme. This poem is hideously unstructured. This poem can only be called a poem because I say it is.
I’ve written poems about Arabic, and poems about custard, and poems about poems. I’ve read poems about everything under the sun. I have a few favourite poems that I go back to time and time again, whether I understand them or not.
People are snobs about poems. Snobs in poems. People are also beautifully, heartbreakingly open and honest in poems. Poetry hits you in the solar plexus in a way that most longform literature doesn’t. Mostly short, sometimes sweet, sometimes bitter, poems worm their way into the deepest recesses of your mind, where you forgot you could even feel that emotion.
Poetry’s beautiful, and ugly, and kind, and cruel. As are we. Poetry and humanity don’t fall far from each other.
I’ll keep writing poems that no one except me will ever read, and I’ll keep reading poems that I love, hate, understand and don’t, because I want to. And I think you should too. If you want.
Until next time, K.