Thursday, April 20, 2006

Kathy Stevenson Waxes Poetic on National Poetry Month

OK, so she didn't exactly write a poem about a month dedictated to poetry appreciation. But she does wonder about National Poetry Month and what it might mean to the average person:
"Most people I know, even avid readers of other literary genres, confess to not understanding much of the poetry being written today. It's too obtuse, the language too rarefied, and the metaphors too far out, they complain."
And then, after extolling the virtues of poetry and giving a nod to its current popular resurgance, she asks the hard question:
"Still, do we need an entire month devoted to the promotion of a literary form that many people haven't been acquainted with since high school English classes? Why not Essay Month, or Unauthorized Biography Week, or Take a Novel to Work Day?"
Now, I've been known to tuck a novel (or two) and more than one non-fiction work in my laptop bag. But I can't tell you the last time I purchased, or even borrowed, a book of poems. But Kathy finishes her piece with some darn good comments on poetry. And she's right: It's important. For example, what does all the wisdom literature and scriptures of the world's religions amount to ultimately? It is (divinely?) inspired poetry and verse. Particularly when read in their original tongues. Then the words flow, rhyme, and sing like otherworldly creatures. The Eddas, the Upanishads, the (biblical) book of Jeremiah, the Tao Teh Ching, and on and on ... Poetry cuts straight to the heart of a feeling or experience, trying to distill it down to it's absolute -- albeit textual -- essense. Poetry is a hybrid language of heart and words. And even when you feel forced to wade through a hundred boring, insipid poems, finding that one that truly speaks to you ... that resonates with you ... feels like finding a fabulous treasure. Kathy doesn't say that exactly. But I think her whole piece is worth a read. And I'd love to hear your comments on poetry.

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