Poetry geek. That’s me. But it’s not like I know and have read all the poets. I really haven’t studied the poets, and as I mentioned before, that bugs some writers. But I have read a lot of poetry, and I’ve written it since I was a kid.
I think you have to find the poet you can really relate to. Here’s the secret thing that really bugs me: When people think poetry needs to be so abstract and flowery that you can’t relate to it. That if you don’t get it, you’re an idiot.
Guess what? You’re not an idiot. You’re a normal person who would like poetry if you found some that would move your soul. You shouldn’t need an interpreter to understand poetry. You shouldn’t need someone that has to say, “See, the flower in this case represents the sky and the grey stone represents his stubborn nature, and….”
See how boring that explanation is? And the problem with that explanation is not you and it really isn’t the poet, it’s the fact that the poem didn’t resonate with you. But someone, somewhere, told you that because it didn’t resonate the problem was with you.
Why do I bring all this up? Because poetry can get very snobbish. The people that write poetry can get very snobbish, and I find this personally offensive. As a poet myself, I can’t imagine saying to someone who didn’t like my poetry: “Well it’s because you obviously… (dramatic sigh)… don’t understand poetry.”
I would never say that. You know what I’ve said about people who don’t like my poetry? That it’s okay. It’s not going to resonate with everyone.
One reason this snobbery has begun to really irritate me is that I know how beneficial poetry has been in my life. It has helped me understand the world and move beyond the hardships in my life. It inspires, helps you grieve, helps you smile, reminds you of the majesty of God, helps you see the beauty in the world… and a million other things that are both universal and personal in nature.
But if you’ve given up on finding poetry you like because you’ve had people tell you the kind of poetry you should like… well, please, try again. Read a variety of poets. Send out a note on Twitter or Facebook and ask people what they like. Do some digging. I promise you that you will find a poet that sings to your soul.
There is value in poetry for your life. You just need to find it.