Poetry is not the enemy


Before I start this post, I would like to point out that you can check my newly published short story “The Dream Where Jason Segel is my Boyfriend” over at CoffinMouth now!

Now, over the weekend I went to a poetry festival with two of my friends in Blairstown, New Jersey. I mostly went because I hadn’t seen these friends in quite some time so I really wanted to hang out with them. I was never one to really like poetry all that much. When I was in grade school/beginning of high school I used to write some poetry, but it was horrible and we will not discuss it here.

I personally think it’s tough for kids to get into poetry now because when you go over poetry in school its all the boring stuff you have to analyze and figure out by digging deeper and deeper into the poem, looking behind the words and under the table, for what the author is trying to say. Not saying that is anything wrong with this type of poetry. Seriously, I love Shakespeare and Poe and E.E. Cummings as much as the next English major, but poetry was just never my strong point. I like to read a poem in order to enjoy it, not analyze it. How do we know that that’s what the author meant when he wrote the poem anyway? As my roommate used to say, “Why can’t the puppy be depressed because he just is? Why does he have to have a reason?” She would also point out those reasons were always deep psychological issues too. Like the puppies dad abused him or something. But what if the author didn’t really mean that the puppies dad abused him and that’s why he’s depressed. What if she’s right in saying that the author made the puppy depressed because they wanted to.

I know that reasoning may be flawed, but analyzing is not one of my favorite things. That’s what I liked about this more modern type of poetry. The poetry was right out in the open. There was no need for me to delve into every meaning of every word just to figure out what the poem meant. I just had to listen.

By the end of the day, I had bought two books and got them both signed by the authors. The first one I got was What We Pass On by Maria Mazziotti Gillan. It’s a collection of her poetry from 1980-2009. My reasons for getting this was because during her reading of some of her work, she read a piece about her husbands battle with Parkinson’s Disease. It was something that really inspired me because my dad has has Parkinson’s Disease for the past 6 or 7 years, and it’s not every day you meet someone who knows someone with Parkinson’s Disease. I talked to her about it, and she said that her book has a lot of poems about her husbands fight against the disease, so I knew it was something I had to buy. The inscription:

“To Casey In honor of all we can learn from one another about survival and illness and what it means to care.”

The other book I ended up getting is not a collection of poetry, but a memoir. Dog years by Mark Doty was recommended to me probably around a year ago by the two friends I went to the poetry festival with. They had seen Mark Doty do poetry readings before, and had both read the memoir, which they said was amazing, although pretty depressing at the same time. After hearing Mark Doty read for myself, I do have to say that he’s definitely one of my favorite poets now.

So, although I won’t be writing any poetry any time soon, I now have a new appreciation for the art, and will probably get more into it as time passes. Another thing I want to start doing more is attending more writing festivals and stuff like that, cause I was really inspired by the entire day. It really helped evolve some ideas I’ve had lingering in my head for the past few weeks, and helped move the writers block from my mind.


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