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Saturday, January 8, 2011

What Poetry Is

The following is addressed to those who will not be reading this.

The following is addressed to those who think they should like poetry--but don't.  The following is a kind of shorthand for what some people have actually said to me. Which is kind of strange because they will say these things even as they take a class in poetry or attend a poetry reading or buy a poetry book.  Or two.

These people say to me--just after I have given a reading or just before I introduce a guest poet--either in person or at an event for which I am moderator and have spent a considerable amount of time, effort and often my own money putting together--these people come up to me and--not out of a sense of snarkiness but more out of deep frustration--these people  feel compelled to say the following to me: 

Why can't all the poets just say it? Why can't they just come right out and say it! What's with all this fancy, have-to-have-the-Rosetta-Stone-of-Poetry-App- on-my-iphone-before I can--before-any-of-this-can-make- sense to-me...and-really-isn't-the--poet-just-showing-off-here?

Just Say I can understand it.

That's what they say to me.

And, today, I will give you my list of what Real Poetry is: 

#1    Poetry is not prose.
#2    Poetry is an experience.
#3    Poetry is not is beautiful but not pretty.
#4    Poetry is a distinct pleasure.
#5    Poetry as a distinct pleasurable experience can be taught...and it can be learned.
#6    Poetry that is simple for simplicity's sake or complex for complexity's sake is not great poetry- or  even good poetry--so why bother with mediocre verse?
#7    Poetry moves through move through poetry. This happens simultaneously.
#8    Poetry has been around for a few thousand years....human beings seem to like it, need it, rely on it.
#9    Poetry changes reality. Really, it does.
#10. Poetry is ever changing and always the same.


Anonymous said...

I love this blog. It addresses so many misconceptions about poetry.


Lois Roma-Deeley said...

Thank you! I am working on another blog titled
"10 Stupid Poet Tricks" which, I hope, will address other types of "misconception" issues!

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I never thought of poetry that way