Poetry in Music

Other than literature and writing poetry, music is a major passion of mine. However, I have always seen poeticism and music as something separate when, in reality, that’s not entirely true. I think that in a lot of recent pop music, the poeticism in the lyrics of songs has significantly decreased, or really isn’t there at all. Part of me forgot that a lot of songs are derived from poetry and/or started as poems themselves. It can be a bit difficult to explain, but I can only describe it as the pop-music-brainwash, I suppose.

Personally, I generally enjoy pop music. It is what most of my Spotify is comprised of, but every now and then, I stumble across an artist or a band where I can only hear their songs as poetic. Right now, I’ve been into Bon Iver, an American folk band started by the lead singer Justin Vernon. Their songs are so complex that it becomes inspiring. I cannot help but focus on every aspect of them, almost as if I’m workshopping a poem in class. I look at the title, the lyrics, I interpret them and then try and figure out where the inspiration for the song came from. Then I decipher with myself why the music works to compliment the lyrics, as well as work on its own. I don’t find this kind of experience in a lot of pop music. In particular, I listened to Justin Bieber’s new song called “Yummy” and while I think it’s kind of catchy, I don’t get the kind of overwhelming experience like when I’m listening to Bon Iver. I’m not entirely sure if there is anything more here other than just acknowledging the diminishment of poetics in a lot of contemporary music.

Slam Poetry

When thinking about what got me into poetry, I had said it was because my parents introduced literature at a really early age, which is completely true; however, when thinking again about what actually got me into poetry, it was poetry in response to a tragedy that got me writing, specifically, slam poetry. Whether it was a rape survivor’s story, or survivors of a shooting, or a political statement, the readings piqued my interest. What took me by surprise was the emotion from the poets when they read their poetry. It was a performance, not just a recitation.

In class, when Lidabel mentioned Button Poetry, I was immediately brought back to my 15-year-old self staying up late on youtube, under the covers, headphones turned all the way up to “Somewhere in America” by Los Angeles Team on Youth Speaks. After watching some of their videos, I found Button Poetry, and a bunch of other channels with young poets writing and reciting poetry I could relate to. I would play the videos over and over, eventually being able to mimic the exact way the words were spoken by the poet. Like a song, I recited them in my head, sometimes writing them in my science notebook when I got bored in class (something I still do). I was attracted to the rhythm of their speech and the progression of their poem, revealing one thing after the next.

It’s really interesting to think back on it now. Those videos inspired me so much that instead of copying their poetry over and over, I started writing my own poetry in the spines of all my notebooks. My parents get upset with me now because I refuse to get rid of any book or notepad from high school, but every single one obtains pages upon pages of poems and scribbles of ideas I had that day. I have now developed an appreciation for poetry that doesn’t necessarily have to be read out loud; however, I think it will always have a special place in my heart, as cheesy as it is. Slam poetry got me writing on my own. It was a creative outlet for me at first, but now it’s something that I want to improve every single day.

Reading

Thinking back to when I actually started writing poetry had to be in the junior high years of my life. I don’t distinctly remember reading poetry outside of what school had assigned for me to read, however, some of my earliest memories are sitting with my parents on my bed reading a book before bedtime. It was the routine to brush our teeth, put on pajamas, and pick out a book to read together. I think that is where my love for literature really started; not only because I love to read and I love unfolding stories in my head, but because it is associated with such an intimate and crucial part of my childhood.

I remember being in first grade or so, sitting on the coffee table in the living room (I always rejected chairs for some reason) and reading “Green Eggs and Ham” over and over to my parents making dinner in the kitchen. I will say I definitely did not pick up a poetry book as a young child and immediately know that poetry is what I wanted to do. It was my early beginning of reading which developed into reading multiple books a month, then writing epilogues to some of my favorites, then discovering poetry and already having the drive to want to understand what I was reading. I had written in my last blog post that my source of poetry really comes from my childhood memories and that I owe a lot of my inspirations to my parents, something I think still reigns true here as well.

My Inspiration

Whenever I am compelled to start writing, my immediate reaction is to write about family. There is a lot of pain, as well as joy, that derives from my family, whether it is my close family, or distant. Besides the hardships, the importance of family is something that my parents reinforced throughout my childhood and into my young adult life. Some were silent lessons of making sure I was always around them when I was young, but others developed as I grew older; through funerals, holidays, new family members through marriage or birth, the message that family will always come first was always just under the surface. Which, I suppose, is why it is my first response.

I also find that nature really gets me in the mood to write. I have a hammock strung between two birch trees in my backyard that I swing in often. I watch the birds hop above me, the leaves rustle in the wind, perch my knees up, and scribble in my notebook for hours. I have always loved nature, another thing that I can credit my parents for. Annually, my parents, brother and I stay for a weekend at a secluded cabin with no electricity, running water, or basically any other civilization around. I am not able to go there seeing as how it is two hours away and boat access only; however, my hammock allows me to conceal myself from my neighbors & the busy traffic and just write.

There are so many other little things as well. I love language, so just conversations with friends and family, or even strangers will spark some inspiration for a story or even just a single line in a poem. I also have a passion for music, so compositions that tend to give me chills really inspire me. I think walking is something a lot of people gather inspiration from, myself included, not only because it might be a brand new place that you’re visiting, but also just the little things that you might notice on a daily walk to class on campus. Something I do not do enough is write down single phrases, or even just a few words, as I get the inspiration at that moment, a skill I look forward to building upon throughout this semester.