« Back

Thoughts On Poetry.

When I was younger, I hated poetry. I also disliked writing in general, but that’s another story. In retrospect, I think the reason for my antipathy was because poetry was presented as something to learn, to understand, and to explain. You had as a child to learn complex forms of writing and expression, and then dissect them and try to explain them. This was far from an enjoyable experience for most, especially when the poetry in question wasn’t written in modern English.

Another criterion for studying poetry was that you had to be clairvoyant. You had to figure out what some person who lived centuries ago, was trying to communicate via metaphors and other symbolic language, and justify your conclusion using obscure historical facts. Of course you were never right, because your teacher invariably had an entirely different perspective. Sometimes a student would come up with something completely left field, and would be ridiculed. That was entirely unfair, since no one really knows what the writer may have been thinking, or if they were simply under the influence of some drug.

Next you were also expected to write said poetry, and conform to a style that was dictated to you. As an aside, I initially meant dictated in a figurative way, then it occurred to me that sometimes they did dictate notes to us in school. How I loathed that.

Fast forward a couple of decades to last year, and lo and behold I found myself writing. I started this blog and would write regularly. What I wrote were mostly articles and commentary. But often my pieces would be more than simple articles, they would express how I felt about something that got me thinking. Eventually, I started writing shorter more expressive pieces, which I haven’t published. I wrote them because I needed an outlet for the pressure cooker of my mind. What came out was far from steam; they were expressive pieces of literature that in my mind didn't conform to what I was taught about poetry. It took me a while to realise that what I was writing was in fact poetry.

I think a didactic approach to poetry ruins this form of expression for children. I’m pretty certain that the great poets didn’t sit down and think about their themes, figures of speech, or literary tactics. They simply wrote to express themselves, or to entertain others. So instead of teaching children that poetry has to conform to particular styles and be composed of things that are larger than their vocabulary, let’s allow them to express themselves and leave the study in pathetic fallacy and such to their post graduate endeavours.

comments powered by Disqus