When I was young, I didn’t read poetry other than the simple rhymes most kids grew up with. I was more into anything with monsters or aliens from outer space, and poetry didn’t have much of that.
Fast forward to today. I’m still reading stories with monsters and aliens along with other fiction, but I’m finding myself attracted more and more to poetry. I imagine it has something to do with wanting to broaden my literary horizons and to educate myself about something of which I’m largely ignorant.
My journey into poetry so far has been an interesting one, and although I have a long way to go, I am learning quite a lot.
One thing I’m learning is poetry isn’t what I thought it was. I wrongly assumed poetry was mostly lyrical and songlike, and some is to be sure, but a lot of what I’m reading isn’t that at all. Some of it is quite baffling while some of it seems to be nothing more than platitudes one would see in a greeting card.
Here are a few examples.
I picked up a poetry book from the Poetry Foundation. I understood very few of the poems, and I attribute it to my ignorance of poetry and what I assume is my general stupidity overall. This is one that stands out; it’s by Katharine Coles:
I love the language here, but I don’t understand the message and I’m sure it’s due to my pea brain not being educated enough to understand it. There are many more poems in that book like this one, and some even more cryptic. Still, as I said, these are real writers writing real poetry and I have a lot to learn.
Next, I purchased “Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur. I like her work, but with her I’m finding I have the opposite problem. Her poems are easy to understand. Some hit you like a sock in the gut like this one:
While there are a few poems in that collection as powerful as this one, there are many others that are like this one:
I didn’t know that was considered poetry. And what’s worse (or best if you’re into that style) is much of “Milk and Honey” is similar.
I don’t want to come off like I’m trashing Rupi, I’m not. I like her passion and her artwork. It’s just that some of these poems seem lacking.
Then again, I’m sure it’s me.
The plan is to continue reading — to go back to what are considered classic poems and work up. I may not understand everything right now, but it is fun taking the journey.