Poetry. It’s not a scary word. Just six letters, nothing too major. But the concept of poetry, wrapping your head around the idea can be somewhat terrifying. Why are words not capitalized? Why is the line ending here? And probably the most prevalent, what are they talking about? The good news is poetry doesn’t have to be scary, unless it’s Edgar Allen Poe.
The thing that scares us the most about poetry is the assumption that the ideas have some secret meaning that only the poet knows. If that is the case leave it alone. If the poet wants you to know something they will make sure that it is there somewhere in the poem. Getting over the fear of feeling inferior to the poet is crucial to understanding and enjoying poetry.
If you really want to understand a poem, dissect it. Tear apart the lines and put them back together. Every word was chosen for specific reasons so don’t overlook the seemingly insignificant words because those might end up being the most important. Poems are just another way to share ideas. They are just manipulated sentences so there is no reason for terror. If you don’t understand a poem the first time, read it again, and again. Every time you reread a poem you will draw something else from it. And eventually the moment of “Aha!” will come.
When I was younger, my favourite poems were ones that rhymed. I liked the way that it flowed, the rhythm. My favourite poem was Robert Service’s The Cremation of Sam McGee. Currently I am finding a fascination with poems that at first glance seem like random ideas vomited onto a page, but when you read it together there’s a sense of unity. Today(it will probably change by tomorrow) my favourite poem is Slow Dance by American poet Matthew Dickman. The ideas are concrete and lace the metaphors and ideas together; it is fantastic.
What I am trying to get at is, don’t fear poetry. Although at first glance it may seem abstract and terrifying they can be fun and thought provoking. Find poems that are relatable to you. If you do not know what kinds of poems those are, just read poems. Read a lot of poems. And read them fearlessly.
Featured image via I Love Charts