1. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I hate poetry

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by erebh, Sep 23, 2013.

    I really don't like poetry unless it rhymes. There I said it...

    Why is this? What don't I understand? What am I missing? As a writer I feel I should like it or at least appreciate it. Is it the crypticity? The double meanings? The dissection?

    At school - which was a very macho all boy's school run by the Christian Brothers - poetry was looked at as if anybody who read it was gay and we scoffed. Teachers tore apart poems, "I wondered lonely as a cloud... Let's discuss exactly what Wordsworth could've meant..." We laughed, giggled into our hands at the boys who understood, who questioned, who answered.

    Now some years later I try reading poetry but most of it either goes over my head or I just haven't the patience. I've tortured myself trying to read Seamus Heaney, and only because of his passport and how proud we are of his achievements but I just can't finish a poem - what am I missing? Is it just 'not my bag'? Does it say anything about me?

    Who out there truly appreciates poetry?
    Does anybody think it's all meaningless, self-indulgent crap?
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2013
  2. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Well I never really understood poetry and what makes one poem good and one poem bad. There is so much that is considered poetry I can't fathom why two poems that are very different may both be great. But I'm starting to appreciate it more. I think it's the expression. The ability to say a lot, with only a few words. Or to create a rhythm that flows with the words. Sometimes it's in the mechanics, the literary devices used with a certain level of skill. Other times, it's simply encapsulating an idea in something that can't quite be considered a story but has more to it than basic prose. Maybe taking a poetry class would help me. One thing is for certain. Good poetry, like all good art, leaves the audience feeling some kind of way. It kind of echoes inside them--those who understand it. It's much more abstract and utilizes the right hemisphere of the brain, which is more dominated by female energy, allowing us to think abstractly in undefined curves of creative expression as opposed to the male-dominated left-brain--which has a more categorical, logical approach to processing the world.
     
  3. Rapscallion
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    Rapscallion Active Member

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    Maybe you loosed it
    because you abused it

    It's no more self indulgent than writing prose. It is a form of human artistic expression, written to be shared, not held within, although it does sometimes come from deep and one sometimes needs to look within to find a sought after expression. It's written to be shared most of the time but, can be exercised therapeutically too.

    I'm not saying that any one is better than the other here, or that prose is shallower, because prose can be as deep as gut-wrenching too but, there are different depths of expression attainable in the linguistic forms of art. Those being prose, poetry and song.
    Those depths being particular to the individual. For example, some people prefer song to poetry as a means of attaining expression.

    As for you're macho Christian Brothers they obviously did not know much about one of the greatest poets and Christians that the world has ever known. King David. (He prophesied and believed in Christ - that makes him Christian). So king David prophesied of the foundation of their faith in the Psalms. But, to them Christian Brothers, David would just have been another gay. They close their ears at their own peril.
    Hopefully their attitude was just the immaturity of their youth and they will have changed by now.
     
  4. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Try reading Pablo Neruda, see what you think :) And Edgar Allan Poe. EE Cummings, Sylvia Plath, you can try Keats and Baudleaire.
     
  5. Roxie
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    Roxie Active Member

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    I would also suggest that you check A Night Without Armor a book of poem by Jewel they read more like songs then poetry. I don't think you are missing anything. Just remember you don't have to 'get it' to appreciate the feelings a poem will invoke inside of you and I think that since you are expecting to understand you don't let yourself feel. To me, poetry is all about feelings not dry clean cut understanding. I hope this makes sense and helps you with your dilemma.
     
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  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I wouldn't go so far as to say I hate poetry, but I read very little of it, and I tend to leave large holes in plate glass whenever somebody starts intoning it aloud in my vicinity.

    Having said that ...I cannot get enough of Robin Robertson, the Scottish poet who is currently making the rounds of book festivals, etc. His little book "The Wrecking Light" is unforgettable, especially the last poem, "At Roane Head," about the Silkie's three children, which left goosebumps and a voice in my head that won't go away. This guy is a storyteller, extraordinare—dark, fascinating, plain, vivid and unexpected. I did what I've never done before—read the book through in one sitting AND THEN started right back at the beginning and read it again.
     
  7. Roxie
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    Roxie Active Member

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    Jannert Robin's work is indeed remarkable is pieces just seem to stay with you long after you've read them. It's a good suggestion.
     
  8. JAMESCHOKE
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    JAMESCHOKE New Member

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    poetry is speaking for someone when they can't speak for themselves.
     
  9. smerdyakov
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    smerdyakov Senior Member

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    If novels are watery beer, short stories a good bottle of wine, poetry is a shot of strong whiskey.
     
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  10. Archias
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    Archias Banned

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    Poetry to me, is about turning emotion into word form. You try to use the perfect words to convey the emotion you are feeling, but it doesn't usually work. I usually fail to accurately represent how I'm feeling, but I try. If I am sad, I can write, "I am so sad." but that doesn't transplant that emotion into the reader, it just tells.

    The great poems are ones that lock-in and seal a feeling on a piece of paper, ready to be released by whoever reads it.
     
  11. alex ramirez
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    alex ramirez New Member

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    I think you are thinking of older Victorian style of poetry. Read Bukoswki. Ginsberg. Corso. Even Rimbaud. But I know what you are talking about. I can't stand that flowery, whiny crap either - grown men writing like 13 year old girls. But poetry can be whatever you want it to be. It can mean and violent and political and dirty as hell. And if done well, it should feel like someone kicked you in the face.
     
  12. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    You're not alone friend. I think on such a level that most interpretation seems to be too obvious to me and I search for a different one. It's how I am with a lot of things.
     
  13. morepages
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    morepages Member Contest Administrator

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    I teach high school English and run across this attitude all time. Part of it is old language written about old problems that we don't have anymore, and part of it is that no one has ever taught you how to appreciate poetry.

    You appreciate excellent movies because you've been trained through years of choice and exposure and conversation to develop a taste, and you know how they work (even if you couldn't explain it). Poetry was like that up until the turn of the century.

    I'll recommend the book "Jelly Roll" by Kevin Young; it was published in 2011 and is a whole book of poetry about a love relationship and it's twist and turns -- modern, easy to read, and very relate-able romantic situation. And it doesn't rhyme!

    It's all about exposure and conversation to gain an appreciation for something -- both of which you'll find on this forum.
     
  14. badgerjelly
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    badgerjelly Member

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    Some songs contain great poetry that stands alone from the music. I am sure you appreciate that?

    Keats on the other hand requires more work to understand. I find my biggest problem is often that I do not understand some of the historical, geographical or cultural references used by some of the classics.
     
  15. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    I think this is where I stand actually. I love hip hop music and tend to lean towards artists like Nas and Macklemore who treat it as an art. But as for reading straight prose I have a tough time sometimes because of open interpretation I tend to miss meanings.
     
  16. mbinks89
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    mbinks89 Active Member

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    I like how writers can create great imagery, euphony, and transmit emotion in a more abstract, and sometimes, conversely, direct manner. It's like breaking down the structure breaks down the barrier, in part (at least if we're talking about freeverse poetry).

    I love certain rap songs and rhyming poetry because I'm awed at how artists can create complex pieces of art within the confines of meter and rhyme.
     
  17. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I think people forget that there are different kinds of poetry, and that they each require different things from you. You don't read the Haiku of Basho for some complex commentary on Japanese society, Basho was just there to please and would often have something more complex hidden away in his Haiku for you to find as you just imagine the scene he's presenting. It's always shown with Basho, and it's your job to guess why he is showing it. Other times it is literally to give you a pleasing image that can distract you from your normal, hum-drum life.

    One of Basho's Haiku is this:
    How much you read into this poem might reflect more about you than Basho, and that is entirely the point.

    This is nothing at all like the War Poets most of us will have studied in school, like Wilfred Owen, and Siegfried Sasson. One of my favorites of this entire movement is Wilfred Owen's 'Dulce et Decorum Est'. It's an infernal poem, a poem that really treats us to the full brutality of industrial conflict. It's clearly a poem about people walking through a chemical gas attack near the front and the trenches, and the details are fantastic in setting the tone as utterly bleak and pitiless.
    This poem was written to force the horrors of war directly on you. The first stanza explains what's happening, these men are attacking, the five nines dropping behind them are the shells of artillery. Men so tired they are 'drunk with fatigue' while ill and coughing, like old unhealthy people waiting to die, with no hope left. The second stanza gives us the gas attack, and some poor bugger can't get his gasmask on in time so he drowns in the green mist of a Lime attack, and then the last stanza is the poet reflecting on the unknown man's death as the poet helps fling his corpse into the back of a wagon to be buried en mass - with the ending lines in Latin being translated 'Is is sweet and proper/to die for your country', it's from Horace, one of his Odes, there is no interpretation really necessary there. The name of the poem 'Dulce et Decorum est' literally means 'It is sweet and proper', which given the poem itself is also bitingly ironic.

    This again is much different from something like Horace, whose Odes are a mix of reflections and meditations and philosophical considerations. One of the more well known is Ode 1.11, which has the sentiment 'Carpe Diem'. This is more like the poetry of William Wordsworth, or something like that, which is also very contemplative and diverse in overall theme.

    Poems can be stories too, many of the most famous poems are the great Epics like The Iliad, The Divine Comedy, and Paradise Lost. They will often have religious or national significance, while other poets like to focus on settings. Robert Frost wrote about country labor in rural New England, but he was heavily influenced by the Greco-Roman classics, and if you've never read Theocritus you'll not fully understand Frost's poem 'Mowing' I don't think - that poem is essentially a long, extended metaphor for the act of writing poetry, but it talks about it by proxy, showing us instead the image of someone cutting hay with a farming tool - a scythe. I'll post that one too:
    The line 'no dream of the gift of idle hours' is right out of Wordsworth, who Frost appears to be mocking, while the 'easy gold at the hand of fay or elf' is clearly mocking the early W.B. Yeats. I would like to think if you didn't know this you would still get the point regardless, but I don't know that.

    Some poems are a little more complex, and maybe you can't provide a full explanation. No one knows exactly what T.S. Eliot was intending to say with his poem 'The Waste Land'. If you don't understand a poem, even after a few readings then that is still no reason to give up on it if you enjoy it. Speaking purely for myself, I didn't understand anything of W.B. Yeats's poem 'The Second Coming' until I forced myself to memorize it, and I can now repeat it word for word if I want to. I do that because I enjoy it, and I like Yeats a lot as a poet.

    Some poems are intentionally difficult and hard to properly work out, some are hard just purely because of circumstance. People find it hard to properly become familiar with the style of someone like Shakespeare or Marlowe, because the way common people speak has simply changed from that time. No one is to blame, and no one should feel dumb for not understanding Shakespeare, it's just the way things have happened. And also, never give up - just because you might not feel comfortable with it now doesn't mean you never will. I suppose, after all this as been said, poetry is a game, and you should try to enjoy it. Honestly, there is a lot to enjoy.
     
  18. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I only like poetry when it's silly, goofy and fun. Everything else is like pulling out fingernails. I'm sure I could learn to get into it and learn to dig it. But that's like learning to appreciate red wine, for which I have no palate. In the end, do I actually learn to like it or have I just learned how not to spit it out?
     
  19. edamame
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    edamame Contributing Member Contributor

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    To be honest I think all art (including writing) is self-indulgent since the main point of it is self-expression. That said, I think maybe you just haven't found the types of poems you like yet. I don't like reading mysteries, and if that was the only genre of novels I'd been exposed to, I might have sworn off reading altogether. =)
     
  20. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    “Poetry that reaches all the people is essentially superficial. Real poetry requires effort because it requires the reader to become, like the poet, a creator. Reading is not reception.” - Adonis
     
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  21. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I have re-read this thread and substituted the word "poetry" with "fishing" and it all makes since to me now.
     

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