Why are many people scared of poetry? For once, this is not a poem I’m posting, so if you’re scared of poetry, you can safely read this. I will in due course post some bits of prose imaginative writing here, but this is mainly a poetry site.
People are put off poetry at school – sometimes, but teachers often find poetry at school goes down well if they have the freedom to choose the poems to start with. It’s unreal? Well, it deals in things like birth, death, love, hate, war, nature, the sky, the sea, birds, buildings. They’re all real. Novels, you may have noticed, are fiction, and so are soaps.
Maybe it’s the obscurity of poems? Leave out Finnegan’s Wake and The Third Policeman and most novels are not too hard to understand, at least at a certain level, but some poems leave you struggling to understand. This is a valid point. I think some poets are deliberately obscure. Others, like Dylan Thomas, are uncomfortable that people find them obscure but obscure they still are. Some of my poems are understood easily by some intelligent people and flummox other intelligent people. The best I can say on this is: no-one is going to test you. If you feel you understand, that’s great, but if you don’t quite understand, read onm: it may come to you later. And don’t just read – listen to the sound of the words.
Poetry is short, which is a plus when attention spans are shortening. But poetry is intense, and maybe that’s the problem. It can shake you up, introduce confusion, hope and fear where there was mundane concentration on mundane things, and that’s unpredicatable. Maybe it’s the same sort of reason why many people hate even the most joyful classical music because “it’s gloomy”. Maybe. But jump in and try.