Sep 12, 2008

Understanding Poetry

Three things I don’t get about poetry:
I don’t get people who think they can have rhyme without rhythm.
I don’t get poets who work on a single poem for years, searching for the perfect word.
I don’t get people who stretch a line all out of proportion just to get a rhyme in.

I’ve read a lot of poetry over the years. The poetry I enjoy the most is found in those old, cloth-bound volumes that are shoved to one side at the library sales. I grew up with this poetry, I wrote this kind of poetry, the kind with a strong sense of rhyme and rhythm.

High school opened up a whole new world of poetry for me - Haiku, Cinquain, Sonnet, Roundel, Limerick . . . most of which I was already familiar with but just didn’t know the names of. But now I was writing them as well.

The poetry that took me the longest to "get" was blank verse, or free verse at it is sometimes called. This poetry has neither rhyme nor rhythm. It conveys thoughts, but in a disorderly fashion that I find, for the most part, jarring.

Yes, I have written my fair share of blank verse, however I never know where I stand with these poems. They don’t rhyme, there’s not really a rhythm, are they really poetry? Sometimes I feel like blank verse is just the lazy man’s way of expressing himself, but I have spent just as much time refining a blank verse poem as I have a rhyming poem.

I guess, for me, poetry is like art. I either like it or I don’t. It either speaks to me or it doesn’t. I've only found one piece of art I've felt was worth the asking price. I'm still waiting for that perfect poem.

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