When the time came for me to start writing this blog, I did what any self-respecting professional would do—I turned to my kids for help.
Me: “Okay kids, do you think poetry is important?”
Kid #1: “Yes, Mom.”
Me: (She’s 15 years old and thinks she’s mastered the most efficient way to get her mother to stop bothering her.) “Nice try. Seriously. I want you to think about it and I want you to be honest, even if you think I will disagree.”
She texts me later that day…
“Yes. It allows people to express themselves and helps to simplify or complicate things that are happening in the world, putting things in a different light.”
Hmmm..sounds textbook-like to me, but she’s clearly not into this conversation, so I move on to the younger one.
Kid #2: (10 year old girl) “Poetry is important because it can teach a lesson, like ‘sharing is caring’. It rhymes, but it makes you think about the lesson.”
As simple as their responses may be, it’s a great starting point for me to explore whether or not poetry is relevant today. In a society where success is largely measured by wealth, is poetry pointless?
I struggle with this topic because it’s strikes a very personal chord for me. You see…I’m a poet, and as Robert Frost said, “To be a poet is a condition, not a profession.” And oh boy, do I know this to be true.
I can’t help but write poetry. I’ve been doing it since I learned to put pen to paper. When I was a child, I didn’t even know that what I wrote was called poetry. It wasn’t until I started learning about poets at school that I realized it was a thing, a legitimate thing.
Once the floodgates opened, there was no turning back. I devoured any poetry I could get my hands on. But, by the time my tumultuous teenage years came about, I realized that anything important and meaningful I had ever read was written by people who were all dead. And in came the full-fledged angst.
I figured I could never make a career out of being a poet, so I never shared my work.
But what if everyone did what I’ve done? What if poetry was never shared? If the works of poets have shaped my very essence, couldn’t it have done the same for others?
And so my quest begins…to highlight the ways poetry makes a difference and why we need to be paying attention.