The Your Voice section of The Poet’s List showcases articles and blog posts written by poets. These pieces may or not be about poetry. Most often, they are on topics with which the poet finds passion. You can find more of these posts, here: Your Voice.
The below is an excerpt from poet, Tara Skurtu’s piece titled, “I Don’t Like Poetry, I’m Not a Poetry Person”:
By Tara Skurtu
Every time I hear someone say I don’t like poetry, or I’m not a poetry person, I think the opposite is true. I believe everyone is a poetry person. Poetry is just a form of storytelling, and we’re born to tell stories.
A few weeks ago at Bistro de l’Arte in Brașov, Romania, I was rearranging the order of my manuscript, yet again, when a little girl wandered over to me, looked at my laptop screen, and rested her chin on my table. I asked her in Romanian if she knew poetry. Yes, yes, she said, I know poetry. I like it. Kids get it.
I once read Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Fish” to a ten-year-old girl. We were talking about how a simple moment can be a poem. I told her I was going to read one that was just this. I wasn’t sure if the length of it would hold her attention — Bishop poems are so patiently written, and reading them requires patience. (I often tell my students that her poems are like beer — sometimes an acquired taste.) Also, based on my own experience googling several of the boat terms toward the poem’s end the first time I read it — bailer, thwarts, gunnels — I knew she wouldn’t understand all of the vocabulary.
“I caught a tremendous fish…” As I read it, she sat quietly, looking from one object in the apartment to another. I couldn’t read her face, but she didn’t look particularly interested. “… And I let the fish go.” I looked at my young friend, who sat without talking for a moment. You know what? she said. You’re right. It’s about something so simple, it’s like it’s not even worth it.
Oh. I probably shouldn’t have, but I felt a little bummed out. I knew she was just a kid, that this was just a poem — But then, she continued, she makes it worth it. The moral of this moment? Children teach us about poetry.
Somewhere along the way — usually around high school, sometimes college — a lot of students (mainly the ones who aren’t writing poems) become intimidated by poetry. They associate it with archaic grammar, rhymes, rigid form. It has to be understood one specific way, becomes something that can’t be penetrated. Before beginning a writing exercise for a Mass Poetry Student Day of Poetry one morning, a teenager raised his hand and asked me, Do we just write, or do we write in the form of a poem?
The good thing is, returning to poetry is just like trying to use a second language you haven’t spoken or heard in a while: its essence remains intact. It’s all about getting started. I write Poetry is… on the board (I got this idea from my good friend, poet Derek JG Williams). Each student comes up and writes a word. Fear, feelings, imagination, story, fiction, life, art, analyzing, communication, nature, reality, honesty, mystery, melody, limitless, unknown, dreams, freedom, love, hidden. Sometimes unlearning is the simple act of realizing again what you once instinctively felt.