Poetry For People (Who Don’t Like Poetry)

Categories to check out on the front page: The Famous StuffMy Stuff

Poetry is usually something most people don’t like. It’s either because of the loose style or that it can be very complicated, dense and confusing. Some people don’t like rhyming. It seems sing-song or silly. I have always liked poetry because of these things. I like the fact that you can put words into any order and make them say something either exactly as you want, or completely different from the actual meanings. There is actually a great amount of structure in poetry. There are very specific rules to follow for some forms. Amount of syllables, meter, rhyme scheme, etc…it’s like a great puzzle except that you pick every aspect of what is included to solve it. Some forms have no rules whatsoever. Write it down. That’s it. (You don’t even have to really write it down if you’d rather just remember it. I have never been good at that at all. Poetry Slams are all about people just making it up as they go along. Some people have the gift.) It can be dead serious, with important topical themes or it can be about a bubble. Nature, animals, life, death, balloons, children, disease, anger, sex, pencils, the sun, the Earth, the dirt. You pick. It doesn’t really matter, because you can make it how you want it. The words can define it precisely or very randomly. Clear as day. The sun shined. Or as subversively as you can manage. The blinding brilliance of summer’s brightest star smiled broadly and beamed its benevolence across the sky.

Poetry gives you a chance to really flex vocabulary muscle. You like to use ALOT of words? Or very little? Crack open that dictionary. Pick a word. Go from there.  It’s like a poetry challenge. I have based an entire poem on some random word I heard or read or saw on a sign. Sometimes the way the word sounds is good enough. It has a certain lilt or cadence when spoken. Or the meaning is so obscure and unbelievable that you can just write nonsense around it. Older poets tended to use alot of medieval-type language that really turns people off. It is hard to read and appreciate if you can’t pronounce the words or even know what they are, much less what they mean. And then you have to understand context and time and place…That’s alot of work for a few lines of reading.

I was very lucky, because I had some really great teachers over the years who helped me decipher and understand alot of what those things meant. Plus, I LOVE dictionaries and encyclopedias and anything to do with grammer, English, sentence structures, etc…real classic geek stuff.  In my last 2 years of high school, except for gym, I took only classes that had to do with English, Journalism, Literature, or Creative Writing. Didn’t I sound fun!?! We had a school paper and a literary mag. I was even the Editor. Shocking huh? In my first college attempt, I went for the Creative Writing/ English degree. Participated in the Literary Scene there too. Got good grades, but never followed through. Second college attempt was somewhat more advanced. Associate in Arts AND English. Drawing and Writing! Now there is good stuff! However, I was unprepared for the History classes that usually go along with these kinds of degrees, and the other basic education classes I was required to take. Quit again. Well, they say that the third time is the charm. And I guess they were right. I’m 3 years in on a 5 year run. (Part-time/Night classes–going Full-Time Days in the fall–cross fingers) Of course this time it’s for Nursing. So it’s a whole other ball game. Still got to take some English and write some papers (you see, that’s FUN for me–messed up right?), but there is not alot of call for a poetry reading in an Emergency Room. So now I have this.

I always thought I was pretty good. The teachers seemed to agree. They could have been lying to spare my feelings and I’ll never know. The best teacher I ever had was Mrs. Janice Thrall. She gave me confidence and praise and belief in myself, and all the inspiring things that everyone who ever had someone to boost them over the top says about that person. She is the one who seemed to think that I could write poetry for people who don’t necessarily like poetry. Well we are about to find out if that is true. 20 years later, but still a valid experiment. I have submitted things over the years to various magazines, digests, and contests in the hopes of being published and paid for my efforts. I will admit to many failures in this department. Some things made it through, even earned a few bucks and some print time. More often than not, rejection. It’s ok. You can’t succeed (or fail) if you don’t try. And I will be the first to say that letting people read the things you have written can be HUGELY embarrassing.  It can be so personal and if they don’t like it, or worse, mock it, it can be quite devastating. And also, unfortunately, that feeling never goes away 100%. It’s always a little bit of a personal breach at all times. Seeing into your soul and all that…but, it can be very liberating too. This is how I feel. It is what it is.  I am serious. I am silly. The greeting card industry is based on bad poetry. No one likes all the cards on the rack. Only one says what you want it to say at that moment, but you have to search ALL the cards to find that one. Same type of thing. Songs on the radio are essentially poems set to music. It’s all words on a page at some point. It’s all somebody’s feelings.

So my most basic hope here is to just throw things out in these pages and see what sticks. I will include my own writing (and some things my children wrote–never to young to start) and some of the famous stuff. Start with the things that hooked me in the beginning and see if I can hook any of you. If anything, it gives me one cohesive place for the words I like the best. Maybe you will find something you like! Maybe you’ll read it and think it’s all crap. Maybe you can write something better. Maybe you can share it with me!  And maybe…just maybe…you might even start to LIKE…(whisper quietly)…poetry.

Check out the categories on the front page:

The Famous Stuff (it’s the famous writing from familiar people)

or

My Stuff (that would be my personal stuff, obviously, not famous or familiar)

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