So, you might have heard that April is National Poetry Month? A whole month devoted to poetry. Just swell! Why I–
No, wait! Please don’t leave!
That’s right – I can see your cursor moving to the red ‘x’ in the corner. And it hurts my feelings.
Okay, okay, I know not everyone loves poetry. Some people think it’s pointless, some had a bad experience with a school project. Maybe you just think it’s silly and self-indulgent. But, truly, I promise you, poetry is none of those things. Not good poetry. Or rather, not poetry that speaks to you.
See, I have a theory that people who hate poetry just haven’t found their poet. Maybe Whitman gets on your nerves. That’s okay. But don’t give up on poetry. At least give it one more month. Try a new poet. See what you think.
Personally, I love poetry because it trades in moments. It takes little slivers of existence and examines them, enlivens them. It’s the art of noticing details and finding meaning in them. When I feel blue I often turn to my favorite poets because they show me how to appreciate life as it is lived. When I read a steady diet of poetry, I’m less prone to discount all those little doodahs that I’d miss out on otherwise. Good poetry grounds me. It’s hard to feel down in the mouth when you are present in your life. The highs are higher and lows are more tolerable when you have the right vocabulary.
To borrow a phrase from C. S. Lewis, I read poetry to know I’m not alone. Although it may feature metaphorical language, poetry is raw human experience, largely unclouded by the artifice of plot. The big issues – death, aging, loss, the search for meaning – are featured front and center. Poetry might be our closest link to another person’s perspective.