I can’t say I haven’t noticed … it is rather apparent … I am not oblivious to the thickening silence on my FB page or post or blog whenever I bring up the topic of … poetry. It is like entering a dense fog or a room of people uncomfortable to see me there in my clown pants and bright red nose. Yet I am compelled to wade through the room; through the awkward glances and cast down eyes; through the muffled quiet as I persist in my solo circus act in hopes that some of those eyes might catch sight of what I see as one of the beauties of life.
My husband said, “Krina, don’t you see – poetry scares people.”
Problem is … I don’t see.
I concede that there is apprehension toward poetry – I blame school. Yes, this teacher turned homeschooler blames education. I believe poetry has long been treated like a thought exercise – and many people interpret this process as a test – a gauge of their intelligence. What a shame … to me this is like taking a beautiful painting and telling someone to focus only on the techniques and type of paint used to create it while ignoring the impact of colour and light in the eyes – the way it all comes together and captures our …attention, our deep-down heart/mind/soul attention.
I think we should approach poetry like its fellow art forms – music and art, with exposure to the many varied genres and styles and purposes. We should be free to listen to the images as our fancy dictates – exploring and discovering new voices and listening on repeat for days. You don’t have to be a proficient artist to pick up a paintbrush, you don’t need voice lessons to sing in the shower … you don’t need to “understand” all poetry to find poems which impact your view of the world – which hit the mark somewhere in your deep inside.
No one likes every song or piece of artwork – many of us skew toward specific genres of music and art. We all have our personal taste – so it should be the same with poetry. It isn’t a test … it isn’t … I promise and if someone treats you like it is … send them my way, I got your back.
I haven’t even touched my more romantic thoughts about how poetry is the stuff which glues us to the underpinnings of life and living. But I do believe that poets, amongst others, are the watchers, the collectors, the canaries in the dark. I also believe it lives in all of us – it isn’t exclusive – I see it in the many loving acts and passions which flicker by everywhere. In the photos of your kids, grandkids, dogs, cats, and loved ones … in the giving up of a seat on the bus … the pouring out of encouragement to a friend in crisis or even perceived crisis …in the tears shed while watching sappy Netflix shows, or in the warm aroma of coffee passed to a friend. You to me are poetry’s life force.
So no – I don’t see how poetry can be only scary – it is too big to be only one thing.
Therefore, I will don my clown pants and bright red nose and continue to advocate for poetry even in your uncomfortable midst. You are worth it.