Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Ramble on...

A combination of an email from an old friend and an article about poetry has got me thinking today about…poetry. I am a fan. I have been for a very long time but it seems to me that most people find this a dated affectation. In a way, I suppose, a fondness for anything is an affectation. We tend to define ourselves by what we like, do we not? But that’s not really the point here.

Poetry isn’t something we think about but it surrounds us. We THINK we hear it in advertising jingles and rap music and yet we don’t notice it in tv shows like “Deadwood.” We regularly pick up novels but almost never pick up poetry. Every once in a while we come across something in the newspaper that MIGHT be poetry, if you squint really hard. But in the end, rhyming is not enough, meter is not enough, emotion is not enough. Somewhere along the way the importance of discipline in poetry was lost.

Hey, you could string some words together, match some rhyme scheme and throw in a reference to…oh I don’t know, how the darkness envelopes you like the womb and you could call it a poem. You could! I’ve seen it done. But does that really get the job done?

Or, you could be Eminem and rhyme no with no and her with competitor..with…”cheddar’s incredda’”? Yikes, I’m going to risk being branded a snob and just flat out say that this is not poetry. It might make for a catchy song but…yeah. Seriously, here’s a bit from one of his songs…

Niggaz that take no for an answer, get told no
Yeah I been told no but it was more like, "No, no, no!!!"
Life a bitch that'll fuck you if you let her
Better come better than better to be a competitor
this vet is ahead of, the shit is all redder, you deader and deader
A medic instead-a the cheddar's incredda'

I can’t say it’s bad, I don’t have the background in rap rhyme schemes to assert that. But I am pretty comfortable saying…not poetry. Then again, I certainly wouldn’t say that about all rap or even song lyrics. Very often they stand alone just fine.

Hey, I might even argue that poetry is a pretty basic urge. Generally children learn to read by rhyme. Consider that one of the most common first words that a child learns to read is cat. Suddenly the vocabulary is increased significantly by rhyming. As long as the kid gets “cat” and knows the alphabet, she suddenly has rat, bat, sat, fat, hat, mat, pat, and vat with very little effort, start adding letter combinations and the list goes on…chat, frat (ok, they won’t really learn this one until later but still…I didn’t want to have to go with shat either…heh).

Anyway, I guess in thinking about poetry today I’m thinking that it’s something that has become a…well, kind of an educational cliché. Generally I think people only think about it in school and then only because they have to. Sadly, I also think that you miss out when you don’t explore it a little. There’s a lot to like in poetry, unfortunately, there’s a lot to hate too (and I am not going to link anything to “hate” because I think you have to decide that one for yourself).

Hmm…I don’t think I’m done on this subject but I think have been boring enough for one day. I still have things to say on the subject and I want to talk about why “Howl” is a great poem, even if you don’t like it. But please, read a poem this week. Just one. Just a short one. It’s good for you and it’s better than eating brussel sprouts (yes, I know, I know, you LIKE brussel sprouts…freak).

Yeah, I am boring like that…what can I say?

1 comment:

Jodi said...

I found a website of Peeps haiku. Does that count?