On Poetry

I know a number of open-minded and intelligent people who claim to “hate poetry.” I think most of this group would make some exceptions for a handful of poets or at least individual poems, but their derision for the art form is nonetheless prominently pronounced.

I feel some empathy for these people, but I never considered myself one of them, even though my appreciation of poetry seems to be more and more theoretical as time goes on. Fiction is more my game. But it seems to me that if prose, esp. that prose that purports to be “literary” doesn’t contain some elements of what we’d call “poetic language,” then it’s hard to find much about it that is more rewarding than your average episode of [fill in your favorite soap-y television series here]. If we’re to admire (and practice) “poetic language” there must be some good that can come of reading (and writing) poetry itself.

Anyway, in my efforts to develop some sort of literary track record of my own, I occasionally buy a copy of some or other “literary journal,” usually one that has published or is edited by a writer whose work I already admire, in order to familiarize myself with the type of fiction that journal generally likes to publish and decide whether it would be worth the effort to send them some of my own work. In some of those journals, and one in particular that I’m thinking of, I found that said journal also published poetry in addition to fiction. I always attempt to read it, but in the great majority of cases, I can’t make heads or tails out of what the poet means to say, if anything at all, and I naturally find this frustrating.

If I had a point I was making, I’ve forgotten it now. Damn.


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