April is National Poetry Month. It was first introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry.
What is poetry? I’ll start with what I believe it to be. Poetry is an expression of feelings and ideas being born through language. Something that is created from nothing to gain a body in form, rhyme and meaning. How we shape this body is limited only to what you are limited too. Poetry can reach out and bring you into it’s bosom, but poetry begins and ends with you.
If I read a book and it makes my body so cold no fire ever can warm me, I know that is poetry
Poetry is what makes me laugh or cry or yawn, what makes my toenails twinkle, what makes me want to do this or that or nothing.
Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.
I write poetry, but I would not call myself a poet. What I do is only spew out words that have been built up inside and are released in a fairly coherent form. To be considered a poet, I need to first give homage to those great poets before me. Emily Dickinson was a copious private poet, whose large collection of poems weren’t discovered until after her death. Dylan Thomas was a poet and writer, with a deep and striking voice that is known almost as much as his work. T.S. Eliot was arguably the most important English language poet of the 20th century. There are so many others and I am a little spec of dust under the shoes of these giants, but at least I know it and don’t profess myself to be something I’m not.
This site says there are 51 types of poetry! I am familiar with a handful of them, but some of them don’t even seem like real words much less a form of poetry. Shouldn’t a poet know these forms, or at least be familiar with most of them before calling themselves a poet? I guess you could be a master haikuist (not a real word, but maybe it should be) and never embrace another type of poetry. Maybe it is excessive to have that many forms anyway, more isn’t necessarily better.
How about what makes a poem good or bad? Now this is definitely up for debate. For me, I guess this would be similar to what I said about art in a previous post, that it needs to move me emotional and/or intellectually. I also need to have some understanding of what the poet is writing about, even if I put my own interpretation on it.
Well, I think this is about enough of my ramblings on poetry. Would love to hear your thoughts and opinions or even share a poem you like or wrote.
I will end the post with a poem by Pablo Neruda
If You Forget Me
I want you to know
You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.
If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.
if each day,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.