Saturday, October 03, 2009


I don't get poetry.

Never have.

I'm not slamming poetry, or people who appreciate poetry. My best friend couldn't live without poetry. It flows through her veins and sustains her. Many bloggers I know are either poetry lovers and/or even poets themselves.

Not trying to denigrate them or the art form they love. Just saying I'm different and I fail to see the point of poetry.

I ran across a quote from the physicist Paul Dirac, who shared the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics with Erwin Schrödinger. He sums up my feelings about poetry quite nicely.

"In science you want to say something that nobody knew before, in words which everyone can understand.

In poetry you are bound to say...something that everybody knows already in words that nobody can understand."


If you have something to say, if there is something you want me to know, just tell me what it is! Don't make me guess, don't leave it up to my interpretation, don't cloak it and hide it in obtuse phrases. JUST FUCKING TELL ME!

Same goes for abstract art of any form. Anybody can sling paint on a canvas, stick it in a frame and hang it on a wall. As far as I'm concerned, all abstract art is one big Rorschach test. None of it has any objective meaning, everything is left up to the viewer to decide what it means. Which means it doesn't mean anything at all. It is meaningless. It has no content and therefore no relevance.

The purpose of this blog post is to express to the reader why poetry doesn't speak to me. In order to express my feelings, I choose my words very carefully. I go back and re-read what I have written. If I find parts of it to be vague or ambiguous, I will re-write those parts to make them more concise.

My goal is for the reader to come away with a clear understanding of the point I am trying to make. I write this way so as not to waste people's time by making them try and guess what I mean. It's a courtesy to the reader.

I apologize that I will not spawn an industry of critics and apologists who spend decades hunched over my scribblings and writing their own interpretations of what they feel I was trying to say.

Sorry to break your rice bowl Sparky, but I say what I mean. I don't need no stinkin' interpretation.


Nick said...

Interestingly, hébéphréniques are often unable to decipher simple aphorisms.

I'm jes' sayin'...

; ' )

Leigh Ann said...

I'll bet you would like some of my poetry from back in the day. I just don't put it on the internet because it is not family-friendly. XXX

I composed a short poem this morning that goes,

"I never thought I'd be grieving so
For a man who died 100 years ago."

It's Thomas Swope I'm alluding to.

The poem Leonard Cohen wrote called "Celebration" has turned many a poetry detracting man into a poetry fan. Even Paul Dirac would have little trouble understanding that one.

I Travel for JOOLS said...

I'm not much of a poetry aficionado either but I've carried an old copy of "Snowbound" by Whittier around with me for nearly all my adult life. I first read it in high school and being from Wisconsin, I could smell, taste, hear, see and feel those words.

All these years later, it brings home back to me.

logtar said...

Even though our friendship
seems to always meet in topics
like opposing pirate ships
in the turbulent tropics

I always find interesting
that our opposing views
seem to never be resting
and never lead to feuds

Ok, I am done trying to annoy you.

I have a WHOLE freaking post about this just topic (did you break into my secret vault?)

I think its a brain thing. I love poetry and appreciate it as much as I appreciate music, but painting and visual art is something where I can recognize great beauty but don't get, don't get as much feeling from as I do from other forms of art. Its a very interesting topic and this post might make me actually dust it off and actually complete it.

emawkc said...

Not sure where Logtar's response will go, but I suspect it might be similar to what my reaction was. Anyway, as frequently happens, by comment got to be too long to be posted here, so here's a link.

Short version: XO, you need to exercise your soul muscle.

dangerousdaisy said...

Almost every song ever made is poetry, set to music.

Nursery rhymes are poetry.

Military chants/marches are poetry.

Even the little sayings on the playground were poetry.

You're not nearly as anti-poetry as you think, or like to think.

It's a flow, a rhythym of the same things you say, but in a more satisfying sequence.

Your little addled brain is going a million miles an hour and if it slowed down and took a breath, there'd be some sort of poetry that would grab your attention. :)

dangerousdaisy said...

Oh, a storm is threatning
My very life today
If I dont get some shelter
Oh yeah, Im gonna fade away

War, children, its just a shot away
Its just a shot away
War, children, its just a shot away
Its just a shot away

Ooh, see the fire is sweepin
Our very street today
Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull lost its way

(part of Rolling Stone's song, Shelter)

That wasn't so bad now, was it?

Joe said...

I'm right with you X, I don't get it either.

May said...

I think you're reading the wrong poetry.