Saturday, January 26, 2013
My first memories of poetry were from A Child’s Garden of Verse by Robert Louis Stevenson, These beloved verses and the illustrations of E.H. Shepard were to see me through my childhood filling my mind and fertilizing my imagination as they did for so many children. Yet where did that love of poetry go for so many people? I think it is in the way poetry is taught in today’s world. For instance, on my first day of Honors English class in college as the professor was giving us the curriculum for the semester. She listed what we would cover in the order in which we would cover it. The very last on the list was poetry, with a shrug she said “I’m not really comfortable with poetry, so am leaving it for last. I hope there isn’t time.” I heard much the same, when I joined the editorial board of the college Journal of the Arts. The poetry picked for the journal by and large was full of abstract thought. It was as if the general consensus about poetry is if it’s abstract and difficult to figure out the meaning behind the words than it must be good. No wonder so many say they don’t understand poetry or don’t like poetry, when English professors admit they don’t understand it. It is a shame that poetry has such a bad rap, (no pun intended) as poetry weaves through our entire lives, even if we don’t know it. You hear it in the lyrics of the music. It is in our greeting cards on coffee mugs, in commercials, you name it and you will find poetry. Yet many parents shy away from either reading it to their children or picking it up and reading it to themselves. What is the meaning of poetry to me you might ask? Poetry and verse are short stories telling the tale lying in the heart and mind of the author.