It isn’t cool, is it? Let’s face it. I love poetry personally (not all poetry obviously, that would be like saying I loved all fiction, which is clearly nonsense, there’s some utter tripe out there, and there’s some stuff that is accomplished and stylish and beloved by many but which just doesn’t appeal to me, and the same goes for poetry).

Anyway, yeah. Most people don’t read poetry, don’t think about it, don’t consider it as something they might choose to read and enjoy. But then most people listen to music – and I know plenty of people who perhaps get more out of the lyrics of the music they listen to than they do out of the music. And whether that’s skilled wordsmithery and real craft, or just something pleasingly simple and rhythmic, if you’re appreciating a song enough to write down its lyrics on someone’s facebook wall or just on a scrap of paper because they make you smile or make you feel slightly sad or whatever – there you go. That’s poetry. That’s you, appreciating poetry.

It’s not all about the blossom on the cherry trees or someone’s Shakespearean, dun, corseted bosoms. It’s not all about an old, cursed seaman, blackberries rotting in a bath, or tigers, lambs, roses, worms, innocence and experience. It can be as beautiful and gripping and telling and relevant and striking as any of your favourite songs. More so, perhaps. What I don’t know, not being massively au fait with the internet at large, and being lucky enough to live in a house full of books and the sort of people who can recommend good books to me for me to read, is where you’re likely to find things straight off that you really like. But in the meantime, you could check out Pomegranate. It’s an online magazine of poetry written by poets under 30, ordinary people, students mostly, not necessarily published poets themselves. Each month there is a theme, of sorts, and you can either write to that theme or write something else, and, out of the possibly hundreds of submissions they recieve each month, they pick about twenty, and often they’re really good.

So, if your summer has just started, you haven’t got a job yet, and you don’t know what you could do today, check out Pomegranate. Read some poetry.

Oh, and my favourite poet is Ted Hughes. Try Crow or Birthday Letters or Tales of Ovid. They’re all books, incidentally, not individual poems. Meanwhile perhaps this is why I occasionally swear on my blog (sorry Dad). None of these links will take you particularly long to check out, incidentally. Don’t be so lazy, it’ll take you a minute to read that last one, and perhaps a little longer to get vaguely to grips with Pomegranate.



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7 responses to “Poetry

  1. A problem I’ve always had with poetry is that English lessons seem determined to destroy it through over-analysis. Plenty of otherwise perfectly good poetry has been ruined for me that way!

    That said, I really appreciate at least two of the things you mention, lyricism and Shakespeare, even if it’s not just poetry per se.

    The things songwriters can do with their lyrics are incredible, I love the rambling thoughts written by Ben Gibbard in Death Cab for Cutie songs like “Title and Registration” or the story of police racism that takes up a verse of Jay-Z’s “99 Problems”.

    Also, the “to be or not to be” soliloquy in Hamlet is just incredible, and I love it to bits. I may have whiled away some time by committing sections of it to memory…

  2. I love Kim Addonizio to pieces. She is the bee’s knees as far as I am concerned.

    Generally, though, I have less time for poetry than I used to have. Think I’m becoming mundane. Que sera sera.

  3. Oh. Yeah. That’s what I meant to say: poetry is cool. And so is Radio 4. And so is knitting, and needlework, and beardy men with guitars singing sea shanties in pubs, and making your own bread. It’s all cool at the moment, trust me, because there’s been an explosion of people talking about it and trying to copy it with varying degrees of haphazardness. And buggery and where’ve you been and how old are you anyway say I to anyone who says otherwise. Who I think is precisely nobody right about now.

  4. Flix

    Life is too short to live without poetry,
    If you’ve got soul, darling, now come on and show it to me.

    Life is too long to just sing the one song.
    So we’ll burn like a beacon and then we’ll be gone.

    ~Poetry of the Deed

  5. I love poetry.

    I run a little Open Mic night in a café and I regularly try and encourage poets to come down and read their work. Having heard poetry readings in much rowdier venues than our own, I’m totally convinced it would work.

    Apparently, though, there was a short ban on poetry a few years back, and that scared everyone off. It turns out for a lot of people writing bad poetry is a shorthand to writing a bad song – you can belabour some trifling point far more efficiently when you don’t need to play guitar as well.

    The story goes that we quickly became overrun – we hand out slots of 10 minutes to poets, and would have at least 50 minutes of mind-numbing verse.

    Of course, this was all before my time. I’m not convinced I could be so judgemental. All poetry has a worth, though perhaps moreso to the author than to an audience.

    It’s a real shame, since there are some really genius writers in Sheffield. I’ve seen them.

    As an interesting aside – “99 problems” is a great piece of lyricism. The music video kind of ruins it though – he actually does have drugs in the car.

  6. I have a love for war poetry, particularly:

    There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
    And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

    And frogs in the pool singing at night,
    And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

    Robins will wear their feathery fire,
    Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

    And not one will know of the war, not one
    Will care at last when it is done.

    Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
    If mankind perished utterly;

    And Spring herself when she woke at dawn
    Would scarcely know that we were gone.

  7. Not a massive fan of poetry (except for this). Although I do enjoy music with good lyrics – there are certain songs that I enjoy just reading the lyrics without the music. Which is essentially poetry, I guess. Meh.

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