Okay, so I’m the Jolly Librarian and I haven an English degree, so, of course, I’m going to get all nerded out about Poetry Month. But I’m not the only one. Every April, I celebrate by sending out a poem a day to the faculty and staff who wish to be on the list. And it’s amazing the variety of folks who want a poem delivered to their in box. Purchasing, admissions, student services, and faculty from every division sign up.
Unfortunately, many folks dislike poetry from their experience of it in school when they were forced to put a poem on a metaphorical slab and dissect it for its hidden meanings.
Perhaps you were one of those poor people who extracted a simile out of a poem and held it up to the light to exclaim its meaning, only to be told that not only had you missed the meaning, but the thing you were holding was not a simile after all, but a metaphor. Cast off any shame from that moment, erase those memories, and prepare to re-introduce yourself to poetry.
Start with a few poems or poets who speak to you. Then read some more. Save the ones you find meaningful. Believe me; you’ll want to come back to them.
As usual, a poet has said it much better than I ever could. So here’s Billy Collins:
Introduction To Poetry
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.