Poetry Friday — National Poetry Month edition

On this, the first Poetry Friday of National Poetry Month 2008, I should have some really significant to say.

*drumming of fingers*

*lost in thought*

*I wonder if an immediate second cup of coffee is too much caffeine at once?*

*looks at fingernails*

*I ought to push back my cuticles.*

*where did I put the choc–, oh wait, it’s too early for chocolate.*

*”I’ve been working on the railroad, all the live long day” . . . “I love you, you love me” . . . “Turn up the radio, Blast your stereo, Right now, This joint is fizzlin’, It’s sizzlin’, Right . . . Pump it, louder, Pump it, louder, Pump it, louder . . .”

*Ahem . . . composes self*

*more drumming of fingers*

Obviously, when you try too hard, something important to say becomes too hard to think of, much less to find a way to say. Poetry is not always the deepest thought, the thought that’s never before been expressed in all of eternity past. Poetry is YOUR take on your subject of choice. It’s the way YOU see the world, which may or may not be similar to the way I see the world. It’s the words YOU choose that I wouldn’t have that help me see the world in a different way, or perhaps, the words you choose that I also would have chosen that show me someone else sees the world just as I do. Poetry brings us together in unexpected ways, through either discovery or through connection, and sometimes through both. Even when the poem is about something not so earth-shatteringly important.

Imagine your five-year old self reading the following poem. What would you relate to? What would it reveal to you? Would you discover something new about yourself or the subject of the poem? What about now, reading it as an adult? Do you see the poem any differently than you would have at five years old?


Piece by piece,
bit by bit,
try them all
to find a fit.

First the edges,
then between,
filling in
this puzzling scene.

—Kristy Dempsey (all rights reserved)

I don’t claim that the poem above is a particularly good poem but that’s what a good poem does for its reader, no matter the age, no matter the subject. It shows us how we’re the same, it shows us how we’re different. And if it does all that in one poem, even better. The part of poetry that cannot be controlled by the poet is *how* the reader will see the poem. And it will take into account the reader’s experiences, thoughts and feelings. It’s one of the best things about poetry to me, that we can read (or write) a poem as a five-year old, and then years later, we can read it again and see a completely different level of meaning.

Poetry grows and changes even when we never intended that it should. Even when we tried our very hardest to think of something important to say and it just didn’t come, and didn’t come, and didn’t come and so we ended up writing a poem about something as simple as a puzzle.

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