Poetry is an art form that makes many people sweat, whether they be creative or not. Tresha Haefner (2019) installs in her students that writing poetry can be really easy, and to not put so much pressure on oneself. Maybe this fear is due to the fact that in school, our teachers start with poems in English lessons that are complex, have rhythm and discussing the different metaphors that may not be that clear to us initially.
Kirsch (2016) states “As long as we focus on what poetry isn’t and can’t be, how can we rediscover what it once was, and might be again?” People expect so much complexity from poetry, they forget why it became popular. The earliest poetry was recorded through song and music and later was used to record genealogy and history, becoming essentially a “…verbal art“. So how did poetry become so feared to where people in 2021 shy away from it in their writing and creativity? Maybe the worry that others will nit-pick at it or over-analyse it?
I released this week a poem where I was challenged to write something based on the word: heartbeat. This was just a fun challenge that I found on Instagram and thought it would be fun to attempt. I planned out a couple of ideas on how I could write this poem and after an hour I felt the call of something dark, real and potentially triggering for some. So once I had written it I published it on my social media, not really expecting anything. I just wanted to see what others’ reactions were as it was a difficult subject. The reason why I write about tricky or ‘taboo’ topics is to normalise talking about them, as in my life I have experience many times over, where I have been too frightened to talk about certain topics due to social expectations or judgement. This has been shown to be detrimental to my mental health, and with this poem I wanted to have people feel able to talk about it online.
While this isn’t necessarily about me, if this has happened to someone out there in the world, how awful would it be if they cannot talk about it with someone because of what they will think? It’s not metaphorically perfect, and the rhyming and the beat is child’s play, but it’s how I felt at the time.
I received mixed reactions to this poem, some felt it hit home and made them more aware about the topic, some responded personally and said they “…didn’t want to like this,” but thought they should. I understand that ‘liking’ something on social media could be seen as contentious and could be misconstrued or that social perception may be misunderstood, as is the case so often. Another responses I received: there’s a couple of non-rhyming words there… well, it’s my creation. I’m not putting this into a competition or seeking validation from others about the quality of the rhyme, it’s the content that’s important.
Indeed Osborn (2016) agrees on the idea that poetry helps us understand the world around us, problem solving life in a creative and fluid manner and baring people’s vulnerabilities so we can relate to each other better.
So from this I think that people assume that poetry has a ‘status’ in life, people come to the conclusion that poetry makes us more creative than others, and when we meet criticism, maybe we aren’t prepared enough to explain: I do this for me, not you. This is what I enjoy to do. People have been studying for years the works of Shakespeare and have found metaphors and other hidden meanings in his work, so we do compare ourselves with his work. Therefore put ourselves down assuming we can’t earn the respect that he has earned?
Next time you think to yourself “I can’t do that” or worry that others will judge you and your creativity, just remember that maybe it’s them who needs to look at themselves and help themselves become less stunted in their creativity. You keep growing, flowing and creating what you feel is important. If it’s important to you, then it’s important to the world. The world itself is a source of poetry, and poetry flows all around us without us even knowing.
Let the words flow from your fingers - never to be stopped, Building up, a bubbling volcano - never be to blocked. - Hannah Baller
Haefner, T. (2019) ‘How to get past your fear of poetry’. The Poetry Salon. https://www.thepoetrysalon.com/tps/2019/06/21/why-are-people-afraid-to-write-poetry/
Kirsch, A. (2016) ‘Why (Some) People Hate Poetry: It’s the site and source of disappointed hope.’ https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/10/why-poetry-misses-the-mark/497504/
Osborn, A. (2016) ‘Why Is Poetry Important in our World Today?’ https://aliceosborn.com/why-is-poetry-important-to-our-world-today/
Wikipedia – the history of poetry.