Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I've never really understood poetry.

I don't mean to say that I don't understand what poetry is; I think I've at least got a grasp on that. I mean that I don't understand what's appealing about poetry over regular writing. What's the advantage of communicating using less forthright means? How does it serve anyone to try to convey your message using innuendo and metaphors, when actual discussion is more complete and easier for the average person to understand?

Let me qualify my standpoint here for a moment. There is poetry out there that isn't bad. There's poetry that, while still more vague than regular conversation, has its own value, by eliciting an emotional response, or offering a general starting point, rather than trying to actually make a point. But these pieces of poetry are few and far between, and aren't the poetry you encounter from day to day.

That poetry is written by some boner friend of yours who thinks he's complex. Or by some girl who thinks her poetry tells you how she's got all these layers. Or, overwhelmingly, by a random internet person, full of doubt and angst, like the rest of us, but "able" to express themselves through twitchy, broken phrases.

So who is it that actually likes all this poetry that's out there?

I ask that question, but I know the answer. I haven't met a single person who likes poetry that doesn't also write their own poetry. And they get their poetry-writing skills reinforced by other people who like poetry and write their own poetry. It's like there's some kind of quietly understood agreement that if you appreciate my poetry, I'll appreciate yours, and we can both seem profound.

It's a clever little way to seem like an artist, which we all want to be (me included). We'd all like to be able to create something that outlives us, some work that people look at/listen to/read and say, "What an amazing piece of work." Poets just seem to have figured out how to accomplish that, without having to actually, you know, be talented.

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