Tuesday, 7 July 2009

What is it about poetry?

I know, I know, I'm the odd one out, but let me frank about this. I know that poetry is supposed to touch us in a special way, to be interpreted to mean several things; meanings are often read into words and their construction that the author/poet himself had never intended. Of course, I studied Chaucer and Milton and Keats and all of that. And I passed those horrid exams, even quite enjoying Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales' and the 'Olde Worlde' English that he employed. I loved Milton's 'Paradise Lost' and the vivid imagery of hell and its angels. But at that time, poetry was to me just a part of my 'A' Level English Literature. It didn't matter if it was English or African poetry. For me poetry was just a task to be completed, an exam to be passed. Poetry was 30 marks out of 100, the remainder being made up of drama and prose. I really loved the prose part. It was fun and straightforward and it captured your imagination in a way that poetry could never succeed in doing. The stories led your mind to far-off places and distant climes and times. Drama too wasn't that bad, especially when we got to do the acting and played the various parts. (I will reserve my comments about Shakespeare). Poems on the other hand leave you to work things out for yourself, and this for me just isn't cool.

Many of my friends write poems, on their blogs, in emails that I receive and so on. I often pretend to enjoy what they've penned, but not because I understand a single thing that the poem is supposed to mean. I never seem to know what to make of poems. Please, please somebody, how do I go about appreciating poetry? I feel as if I'm missing out on something that so many people derive a lot of pleasure from.


Rox said...

Sweetie,you dont have to love poetry. For me its about the feelings and expression. As long as you can feel and express those feelings, it does not matter what medium you use. We all feel differently, we all decode things differently......

In other unrelated issues, Garuba 11??? Am a greedy greedy friend!

Mama Shujaa said...

What is it you ask? Now, you've gone and inspired me to write one. I'll have it at my place for you shortly. My broda, I just ask one thing, I beg-o, please don't pretend to like it...take your own meaning...my gift to you.

That said, I do hear you about the school days and the traditional poetry...

Anengiyefa said...

Hi Rox, I totally hear your comment about feelings and expressions. Poems though I often find, leave me with no feeligs at all. Don't know whats gone wrong there..

Now about Garuba..patience Rox, patience...(your words not mine) lol

Anengiyefa said...

Hi Mama Shujaa, my sista-o, I was so expecting that you would say something to this post, since I know how much of a poet you are. I just decided to open up and tell it as it is. Its the truth, I never seem to see what others see in poems. And to think that some people devote all of their time to it too! In the UK, theres is even an official post for a Poet Laureate nominated, appointed and recognised by the whole country. I've attended readings where the eyes of those around me glaze over with pleasure when the poems are being read out, and I just wonder what wierd stuff I'm made of that the poems just bounce off me. lol.

I'm looking forward to that poem you've been inspired to write. Maybe, just maybe it might stir some previously untouched part of my mind. And I won't pretend, I promise. :-)

Rethabile said...

Poetry doesn't have to mean something. This is absolutely capital in appreciating poetry. The reason is that if it means something, and you don't "get it," then you feel left out, and perhaps a tad unintelligent: what do they all see that I don't?

A poem means what you hear it to mean. With your permission, I'll inlude in this comment a few links to poems that I've loved, not because they mean a meaning, but because they mean something to me, they make me feel a certain (pleasurable or sad, etc) way when I read them. Here they are:

Feeling fuckedup

The Fist

Stars of stone

Easy Skanking

Hanging out with David

What do you think about these poems? And I had to hold myself from giving you 25 links.

Anengiyefa said...

Hi Rethabile, you too I was expecting to hear from. Thanks for the links. Yes, I read all the poems you pointed me to. But trust me, I must be beyond redemption because what fascinated me more than the poems themselves, were the comments people made about them. "How gripping were the words", "oh, such magic", blah blah.

I simply could not find common ground with any of the commenters. The words of the poems made sense, but they didn't affect me in the way that they seemed to do others. So you see, sadly I'm still right where I was when I first cried out in my post.

I'm not sure really whether to think of my inability to appreciate poems as a handicap of sorts, since I'm a person who loves words and language. I can't shake off the feeling that I'm missing out on something..

Mama Shujaa said...

I left you a little note at my place under Swallow Me.


Anengiyefa said...

Hi Mama Shujaa, yep, I saw it and 'swallowed' it whole, lol. It was really cool, although as from the comment I left you could see that perhaps I needed a hand to navigate through it, in order to get the full experience. It was great though. Thank you.