In class recently, we touched very briefly on the idea that poems don’t have to be about romantic love–a stance that I wholeheartedly agree with. After browsing some definitions of love, I’ve come to one basic conclusion about love: it’s indefinable. In order to create definitions for the word “love,” it is first important to recognize that there is no clear and concise definition that can be easily agreed upon by the masses. The origins of the English word “love” can be traced through various levels of Germanic and Proto-Indo-European languages. Throughout all of the influences and changes this word has undergone, there is a consistency in themes like affection, passion, and concern. However, as we have all figured out by now, love is not related only to feelings of happy tenderness. Love is closely related to fear, envy, jealousy, and (yes) even hate. Emotional mapping can help us visualize how our emotions connect, and how they intersect. There are basic emotions, like primary colors, that produce secondary and tertiary emotions that blur lines between what we would normally consider to be entirely separate experiences in practice. So, what does this have to do with poems? In my personal (and somewhat under-qualified) opinion, these intersections of emotion are the places where our best poems create themselves. While not all poems are related directly to romantic love, they all spawn from some sort of passion or dedication to our content, style, and belief in ourselves as poets. Essentially, all poems contain some derivative of love–the fear of losing it, the things that scare us, our obsessions, and so on. Are all poems love poems? Probably. Poems are reflections of life, and life, in essence, revolves around love (or lack thereof) in all its forms.
The posts about children’s poetry (c is for cup and Lemony Snicket stuff) reminded me of Shel Silverstein poetry and how its got some pretty adult content, in regards to incredibly dark humor, and I don’t know just general scary bizarre things like being a bare skeleton or having hinges on your head-accompanied by drawings. They also teach real world mature lessons. I think it’s pretty interesting that this poetry is lauded and deemed acceptable for children (I mean I personally have no problem with children reading it, and think it’s great, but I do find it interesting that it’s not like controversial or anything.) I have a terrible memory, but I do remember some of Silverstein’s poetry from when I was really young, it definitely stuck with me. I remember thinking this dark humor was funny and didn’t realize it was dark because I was a child, I enjoyed more that they were kind of riddles. I think that this tint of darkness definitely makes these poems more appealing to older audiences. Interestingly Johnny Cash’s song “A Boy Named Sue” is a Shel Silverstein poem- I mean I am not sure if this one is meant for children but here, because it is great/ <3 Johnny Cash. There is also a version with Shel Silverstein playing along with Johnny Cash but wow it is so horrible I really suggest that no one watches it. Anyways I am definitely going to have my kids read his poetry because now looking back, I can see the value of this poetry from a different perspective.
Both of your posts brought up slam poetry in my mind. I never really know how I feel about slam poetry since it incorporates tonal shifts in voice with actually performing and moving–and these tonal shifts are so much more exaggerated then when you hear a poet read their work. I think I’m on the fence mainly because it kind of makes me uncomfortable for some reason, which is saying a lot coming from me. I think the fact that poetry is so personal to the narrator, and then there they are loudly expressing it, is the reason for this, or maybe it’s because I can’t read it alone in my own space. Either way, this is one slam poetry video that I actually enjoy. I think it is really well done, but maybe I’d be on edge if I was in the audience. I’m curious about other people’s thought on slam poetry/ if they have considered doing it.
There are about four different drafts on my laptop of what I wanted to say for this post, but instead I’m just going to write what is on my mind right.now.
When we all shouted out ideas/things we have learned thus far this semester, one thing Jay said truly stuck to me. He said something along the lines of, “Not all poems are about romantic love.” While this is something I have come to realize, now more than ever is this notion really hitting me.
I’m sitting at my little desk, staring out my window, and in my peripherals is this tiny baby orchid. It’s been there for weeks, but in this moment all I want to do is write a poem about it. In fact, I want to write a poem about my water speakers, my dusty fan, and even the slippers that have holes in them.
Never before would I have wanted to do that. I will admit that I am not the best poet out there (still happily learning!), but the impulse to write poems about every little thing around me is so exciting! I have on my laptop random poems about the silliest things – and I love it.
Perhaps this wasn’t the most poetic last blog post (ha, ha), but it is one of my most truthful! I’m going to miss this class more than I ever thought I would!
I had a lot to say about this so decided to make it its own post instead of a response. I love hearing poets read their own work, as you can get so much more of their personality that you may have missed while reading it on your own. My tenth grade English teacher had a really great poetry unit for us, where we did things like listening to different types of music while writing and seeing how the tone of the music influenced the tone of our work, and reading a poem in our heads, and then hearing them read by the poet. For the second exercise, she chose the poem Litany, by Billy Collins. When I first read it, it didn’t stand out too much, but when I heard the poet read it I was able to catch all the subtle dry humor in the piece. (The audience’s reactions helped with that too, which brings up an entirely different thought that maybe it’s less of the poet reading as much as it’s the audience’s laughter or snaps or ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs,’ much in the way that the cast of a show will be more energetic if the audience is more engaged.) Continue reading “In Response to Katie’s Poetry Reading Post”