Saturday, August 23, 2008


Contemporary poetry is something
for which I have no understanding.
Does it have rhyme? No. Reason? I'd better guess yes.

But maybe I'm dense, or just not
deep-thinking enough
to follow the winding paths laid by poets.

They seem to meander as a child would
from innocent thought to inspired imagination,
the end result a tale few comprehend.

Even my ironic attempt at poetry here seems two things at once: Thrown together so sloppily it laughs in my amateur face; and, conversely, presented in such a flowy, pretentious, truth-of-the-matter way that it works.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to degrade poetry or poets; it's simply that I don't know enough about it to fully understand it. Plus I have to admit, I really don't read (or enjoy) poetry often, and I know that gives me little credible reason to discuss it.

But what about you? What do you think of poetry?


colbymarshall said...

I don't particularly get it, either. At least I understood Dr. Suess' goals of rhyming. This doesn't make a lot of sense.

Janna Leadbetter said...

Dr. Suess is good, read Dr. Suess I would.

And I do, to my girls. :)

Janet said...

That's like saying what do you think of novels? It depends entirely on the novel.

I will freely confess to not getting a lot of the poetry out there. I strongly suspect a lot of it isn't worth getting.

But Gerard Manley Hopkins is a pure gift to the human race. Dylan Thomas on a good day can make your heart sing. Read Robert Browning's Soliloquy in a Spanish Cloister and I promise you'll get it. You'll also laugh and then think more deeply about the nature of worship and hypocrisy.

Margaret Avison, who is considered one of Canada's outstanding poets (and who became an outspoken Christian partway through her poetry career when she could no longer be dismissed) takes me to the heights too.

When you find a good one, it's magic.

WendyCinNYC said...

I like poetry, and I still whip out my ole Norton's Anthology every now and again and read a few. Like a good passage of text in a novel, it can be very moving. I have a few favorites that I have memorized. It helps that I had a hot poetry professor in college, and he read aloud often. Very dreamy.

I've never been able to write it, though. It's difficult to get it well-metered so that you are obeying the rules and it doesn't sound clunky.

My daughters have had to memorize poetry and recite it at school. This year, (although it wasn't poetry, really, it just read like it) they memorized the entire "I Have a Dream" speech and recited it at assembly and for the parents. No dry eyes in the house.

Janna Leadbetter said...

Thanks for chiming in, gals. You've already put my weak poetry knowledge to shame. :)

Poets & Writers magazine just did an amazing article on Billy Collins, who appears to be the most successful contemporary poet. (It's what got me thinking about the style of writing.) Now, having discussed it, I feel a desire to run to the library and do a little reading...

Joshua said...

poetry is an art form that at times seems forgotten. And it is also the ultimate form of writting in my mind. Anyone can write a decent story, but only few can write decent poetry. :)

And yes, I would recommend Big Fish in a heartbeat, its well shot, and just a beautiful film.

Janna Leadbetter said...

Wow, very interesting. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Josh.

I'll check into that movie. ;)

WendyCinNYC said...

Billy Collins was at my writer's conference this July.

I could tell you stories, let's just put it that way.

Janna Leadbetter said...

Wendy, was he as affable and approachable as the article says he is?

And Josh... the more I think about it, the more I disagree that just anyone can write a story... :)

WendyCinNYC said...

Yes, he was.


Anonymous said...

I don't get the rules and I'm much to old to roll over and learn them, however that being said, I looove poetry and will dabble, play and mold clay-like prosey without thought or regard for such rules. ; )

Don't care who gets it; it can be such a personal and passionate writing, I need only satisy myself.

Janna Leadbetter said...

"Don't care who gets it; it can be such a personal and passionate writing, I need only satisy myself."

What a true thing! We should keep this thinking with anything we do. :)

Melanie Hooyenga said...

I'm a little late, but I had to chime in. I like very little poetry that I come across these days. I used to write it a lot when I was younger, but the majority of it followed the ABBA/ABAB rules of rhyming.

That being said, Wendy mentioning Norton's made me think that perhaps I'm not looking in the right places as an adult. What I've come across tends to strike me as pretentious so I get turned off very quickly.

I feel the challenge to try some of my own now!