Celebrating Poetry Month
People who love poetry can spend hours contemplating a ten-word world. To love poetry you need to love words and word placement. Poetry can be intentional, intuitive, musical, thought-provoking: really, it can be as exciting or boring as any other type of writing. But there is something unique in poetry, something that makes me slow down when I read so I can taste the words, something that makes my coworkers wrinkle their noses, something that makes poets the most under-celebrated group of writers in North America.
Why does poetry have a bad rap? What happened to the days when ladies in long gowns and gentlemen in riding boots sat around on uncomfortable high backed chairs reading Byron? Why do high school students across Canada collectively groan when their teachers write the word “Poetry” on the board to indicate the next unit of study?
Children love poetry. The musicality of the words, unnusual phrasing, and simplicity appeals to them. Children are okay with not knowing what all the words mean. Children like how poetry sounds. The meaning can come later.
I remember sitting on the couch in my condo in Pickering with my nephew when he was eight. We read a picture book of Lewis Carrol’s “Jabberwocky.” We read the poem five or six times. First, we giggled at the strangeness of the language. Then, we tried to figure out how the odd pictures matched the words. In the end, we read the poem together bit by bit to figure out what was going on–this was all at my nephew’s request. His curiosity and openness and interest in language welcomed him to poetry.
Poetry helps me write about the topics I would prefer to avoid. When I write poetry I access a different piece of my writing self. Intuition, trust, faith, imagination, and playfulness swirl through the letters on the page. Often I do not know what I am writing until the poem is finished. Then it takes time before I understand what the poem was trying to express, what my writing self is trying to tell me, to tell you.
Here is a new poem I wrote this month:
Encased by white wooden and glass panes
She writes violet poetry next to an old bamboo shoot.
Once she starred in a low budget film,
Independent they say.
Muted symphonic rock soundtrack,
Small town glamour with tea-stained teeth—
She forgets to feel in all keys,
Choked and ran before opening night.
Watch her hopes fly, deranged pixies
Intense and variable
Making shadow pictures in empty frames because
her only friend remains a butterfly
Acoustic ballads and bloody fingers
Mark echoing nights and cold pillows.
Paid. In. Full. Someday.
Sunshine burns white tipped waves of sadness.
She waits there still,
Within her intimate windows,
And we watch, just barely, evermore.