Sunday, January 12, 2014

The spaces between the words {poetry}

I've always found poetry to be bland. There, I said it. Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman: although these are all well-known, "good" poets, my exposure to poetry had always been in the form of memorizing poetry for school or from an anthology of "Great American Women Poets"; that is to say, unsettlingly bland. I'd never really understood their poetry, and so it felt impersonal, meaningless.

This past year, poetry changed for me. I read the daily poems on Poetry Daily, and browsed poets by subject on I listened to extremely awesome spoken-word artists. I tried to find a poem to recite for Speech (I'm in the Poetry category), something that I'd truly enjoy remembering. I read young poets' writing, like Peter LaBerge and Alicia Lai (seriously, go look them up, as they are epic). I began to love the poetry of poets such as Carmen Giménez Smith and Jorie Graham.

I internalized their poetry, read them over and over until they took on a meaning for me, until they embodied the listless minutes waiting for class to end, the ebb and flow of students rushing down the green-linoleum halls. Furthermore, as a Reader at Polyphony HS, I analyzed the poetry's inner workings, the tenuous -precarious- ligaments pulling together the poem, giving it structure and meaning.

  Poetry has such a capability to embody the human experience, even more so, than prose. As such, I decided that I'd write a poem every day, as a challenge. Only a few days in, I'm already scrambling for topics, ways to make the mundane interesting. This means yellow Post-Its littering my bookcase, handwritten fragments tossed in jumbled lines. This means a simmering realization that I'm writing in a style that's been used for thousands of years. This means I'm attempting an exercise in  understanding, to see just how well I know -and will know- myself and the world around me. A poem tries to define a moment, a life, a consciousness, which is exactly what makes it so powerful.                

Read a poem today; better yet, write one. You might like what you find.

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