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Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Importance of Poetry: A Journey of Acceptance

Poetry and I have an interesting relationship. For as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed prose, especially fantasy and young adult fiction. But I haven’t always enjoyed poetry. In fact, there was a time I hated it. Why? Poetry was confusing, abstract, and (I thought) pointless.

I wondered why readers would want to trudge through something confusing with hopes of deciphering meaning. Wasn’t writing supposed to be clear and to the point? And for goodness’ sake, why did all poetry have to be so structured? If there was anything I didn’t like doing with my writing it was thinking within the box. Coloring in the lines. Conformity.

For years I hated poetry.

My sophomore year of college, I took Children’s Literature where reading and evaluating children’s poetry was a requirement. Of course, before taking the class I knew that there are many types of poetry, but I hadn’t taken the time to read many of them.

Ultimately, I selected “Ballad of the Wandering Eft” from Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night. The poem was short and straightforward, but it was full of imagery and told a narrative. It was a lovely poem. I began to wonder if perhaps not all poetry was bad. I moved on with my life, struggling through classical poetry for several more semesters.

It wasn’t until the spring semester of my junior year that I came to actually enjoy poetry. I was sitting with my friend Faith before Modernism and Postmodernism class when I came up with an idea for a poem. During this semester, I learned that philosophy is ten times more intimidating and baffling than poetry for me (leastwise when it comes to (post-)modern stuff). There’s nothing like good old philosophy to get my mind to work creatively.

I told Faith about my poem idea, becoming more excited as the idea developed. So she encouraged me, saying she’d never seen my so excited about writing a poem before. Which was true. I never had been so excited about poetry.

After class, I rushed back to my dorm room and started researching and scribbling. In the end, the poem turned out to be a mish-mash of movie quotes and some of my own words. The poem made a fun piece of performance poetry for Friday’s Epiphany Coffeehouse (Evangel’s monthly open mic event hosted by Epiphany Magazine staff).
 
So it was that I came to enjoy writing poetry.
 
My senior year, I took creative writing and wrote more poetry. Our class even visited the Springfield Art Museum to write poetry based on pieces of art. I wrote three poems based on three separate paintings. My final semester, the poems were displayed in the art museum next to the paintings. You can read more about it in the Springfield News-Leader.

It took a few years, but I went from hating poetry to accepting poems to enjoying and writing poetry. I learned that poetry can be an art form of its own. Since I can’t paint using acrylics or watercolors, I may as well use words.
 
I learned that poetry comes in different forms, much like prose, and can allow writers to think beyond mere structures. I learned that I enjoy free verse and lots of clear imagery. I learned that poetry can stretch the mind, and being open minded isn’t such a bad thing. After all, you can’t think outside the box, if you don’t at least open the lid a little bit.
 
In celebration of reading and writing poetry, I’ve included a short, free verse poem I wrote specifically for this post. It’s based on tourism vs. local life in Germany, and I hope you enjoy it!


“Morgen”

 
He snaps a picture of your rosy red roof
before the cloud cover,
but you can’t actually smell the rain
in the picture,
nor can you see the trash bin
behind the stucco fence.
 
“Nice house,” he says and walks away
without dropping in for Kaffee
or stopping to pet the Shepherd’s silky coat
under her prickly hackles,
for she’s already snarling, snapping
at the next tourist.  
 

What do you think of poetry? Do you like a specific form?  
Did you like this post? Comment below if you’d like to see more integration of poetry or fiction in Word Storm.

2 comments:

  1. I'm still very happy that you like poetry now. :)
    As you know, poetry is simply a part of who I am. I love reading it, listening to it, writing it, and editing it. But we both learned so much during creative writing, and I can't wait to see what else the both of us come up with as we continue to write.
    I'd love to see more of your creative writing (non-blog, I mean) here. (I've been having withdrawals. Haha!)

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    Replies
    1. I'd love to see more of your creative writing too! I really enjoy reading your poetry, and even your prose has a lovely, poetic style. Please write some more!

      Withdrawals, you say? I'm in the process of plotting something new: a series of fantasy short stories specifically for Word Storm readers. More details to come soon! I'm still in the planning stage. But I will say that it involves an ancient forest that remembers everything and a gifted race with the ability to access those memories.

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