Thursday, June 12, 2008

Where for Art Thou, Readers?

Can poetry matter? That was the question asked by author Dana Gioia back in 1991, but is still relevant almost 20 years later. No doubt it has been asked many times before his essay, and many times since. (Click here to read essay)

Now, if you'll allow me the cliche - I love poetry: reading, writing, listening, and analysing it. For me, poetry has been a faithful friend that I can return to time and again, no matter what shape I'm in. Poems, to me, are not arbitrary words stuck together because they sound pretty or intelligent. They are messages. They are windows onto the world, and doorways into the author's heart and mind. Poetry challenges me to think differently, to see the world from other perspectives, and to communicate myself in ways that I cannot verbally find words (or sometimes, the courage) for. It gives me a sense of peace. It is my therapist. It is my mentor.

But like many other writers, I am all too aware that our culture breeds many poets but little need or appreciation for poetry. People may like to write it on their own behalf, but what about reading it? What place does poetry have in our world? There are many in my own circle who equate poetry with either the dry boring behemoth read in school or the depressed young girl writing about unrequited love, and that sort of thing. Even having my blog focused on poetry, I know I am taking a risk of turning people off.

What isn't realized is that poetry is all around us - even in the most basic formats: song lyrics, familiar quotes, some advertisements. It expands beyond that 10 lb anthology on your dusty bookshelf. Look and see what you stumble across.

I don't write to become famous or recognized. I don't write because I think my poetry is so astounding that I think everyone should see it. I write because I love it. I write because I want to help people to understand there is so much more to poetry than imagined, and is still very much relevant in our lives. This question of "Can Poetry Matter" is one that I will continue to explore, but I would love to hear from you and what your thoughts are.

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