We are all so polarized, now seems like a fabulous time to argue on behalf of something. There are two types of people in the world: those whom read-write-enjoy poetry and those whom do not. These ‘do nots’ haven’t even mustered disdain; it simply doesn’t exist. My relationship with poetry as a thing to tend to or enjoy has ebb and flowed. I have been under a misconception the bulk of my adult years, believing myself to not care for it. I can’t specify the recent trigger, but a lightbulb switched and I found myself admitting I’d been writing it the bulk of my life. I’ve written songs since I was a teenager. My brain had somehow separated song writing from poems. One is melodic; the other is often deliberately not. One is easy to casually entertain; the other takes intention.
Reading poetry ask way more from the reader than a song does of its listener.
I remember dabbling in writing poems around 7th grade. A neighborhood school friend and I would climb a tree across from our street and balance ourselves just so with a journal and pen each. We would try to come up with high-falutin prose that sounded intelligent or romantic; both above our heads. I wrote rhymes of my crushes and other embarrassing arrangements in my teens during a run of late night coffee shop scenes -years before Starbucks existed. We were hippie in our aesthetic, both clothes and behavior. All the sharing, standing up and reciting that goes along with it. We were the cat’s meow. I would later come into rap battles and the still current ability to recite Fugees, The Score album from start to finish.
Poetry is perceived as boring or unapproachable. There’s little relaxing about having to analyze. It comes fraught with over-romanticized, snobbish pomposity. Songs often fill themselves with the same level of metaphor, simile, and intellectual difficulty, because they come so well disguised in melody. Do you feel the music or do you not? Nothing more is asked of you. This is why pop music is so POPular; it has minimal lyrics and minimal looping beats. It’s easy to digest. (and market)
Poetry wants to be heavier. It ask you to work for it. To hear the writers rhythm, to find your own rhythm. It is not more superior only less frivolous. Reading a poem can be both blissful and daunting. This is why fewer people make time for it. Poetry is not just sonnets or unrequited love of the melancholic, misunderstood artist; it is everything we have ever wanted to say and have no other way of expressing.
Thus it turned out, I found myself writing music for many years as a way of not coming right out and saying it. I’m finally ready to tell stories for their own sake.