April is Poetry Month and I can almost see your eyes rolling (like wayward marbles in a face of misunderstandingness). I know what you’re thinking because I did too, once: I don’t understand poetry – it doesn’t make sense, the rhymes are horrid and I’m not all that interested in getting in touch with my feelings. And, you know what? I hear you. But the problem is, you don’t know what you’re talking about.
For one thing: you do like poetry and you always have. Whenever a person puts something to you in such a way that you weren’t able to see it in before, that’s poetry.
“Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!” – Eloisa to Ablelard, Alexander Pope.
“This is the way the world ends// Not with a bang but a whimper.” – The Hollow Men, T.S. Elliot.
Or, “[salt is] the central flavor of the infinite.” – Ode to Salt, Pablo Neruda.
—I am willing to bet that those ideas didn’t happen by your conscious mind until these poets were so good as to call them to your attention.
Another thing: poetry almost never rhymes anymore and when it does it is supposed to blow your freaking mind. Not only that, but poetry is supposed to make so much sense that it makes more that one kind of sense. You dig?
Here’s an example of rhyming poetry making all the sense:
“They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom
For trying to change things from within
I’m coming now, coming to reward them
First we take Manhattan, then we’ll take Berlin
I don’t like your fashion business, mister
And I don’t like these drugs that keep you thin
I don’t like what happened to my sister
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin” — First we take Manhattan, Leonard Cohen (and I know it’s a song – I’m trying to appeal to the masses here).
— So, like, it’s not an instruction manual but you get the gist, right? And you love it.
One last thing: poetry is not about big old emotional emotions. I mean, it can be but you don’t have to read Emo-teen poets – so don’t. If Ella from Twilight wrote a poem, I wouldn’t read it, I’d bury it. And so would anyone one else who reads and writes poetry. Poetry is funny and smart. It’s able to go where no other form of written expression can, directly to the heart of the matter (the cold and bleeding heart of Love).
And (because this is the internet) here’s one about cats:
emperor without an orb,
conquistador without a country,
tiny living-room tiger, nuptial
sultan of the sky
of erotic rooftops,
the wind of love
in the open air
when you walk by
four delicate feet
on the ground,
mistrustful of everything on earth,
for the cat’s immaculate foot…” — Ode to the Cat, Pablo Neruda
— For the record, this might be the only cat poem in the WORLD that doesn’t rhyme.
There is so much more to say about poetry, I will sporadically throughout the month, and I may have sold it a bit short in this post so, feel free to add more poems, your poems or links to other ways to appreciate poetry.
But the first step is to admit that you’ve been living a lie and you’ve actually liked poetry all along. If I could do it, so can you.
I am E.A. Hand and I like poetry.