I decided to use a question mark to soften the blow of a writer saying that he’s not a terrible fan of poetry. The honest truth is that I find the vast majority of poetry uninteresting. I also don’t like about 90% of all fiction, and non-fiction, but poetry ranks a little higher on the annoyance meter rather than me just putting a novel down.
For starters, I like to be stimulated when I read, and I have a very high threshold for what is interesting in terms of reading. I’ll read a lot of books, but I’d prefer to read something that is not that well written and very interesting (Phillip K Dick), rather than something that is very well written and a bit dull (necessary example wanting). Approaching words through demonstrative poetry is very interesting and playful. And it’s that last word that I really like, I love playful books.
And as much as I love books like Blood Meridian and No Country For Old Men, I’ll always prefer Gravity’s Rainbow and Infinite Jest based solely on playfulness. When I read Frost, I don’t get the playfulness. I like him and own an anthology of all his poems, but there’s too much seriousness in him. In poetry that I’ve had to read for classes, there’s a lack of whimsy and fun, and puns. Playfulness is hard to define, but I often find that it’s treating serious matters with wit and experimentation when possible.
Emily Dickinson and E.E. Cummings are two great examples of poets that I love. They have their seriousness in subject matter, I’m not opposed to that, but they twist words and and make language their bitch. Ezra Pound is another poet that plays. He is serious in his subjects, but the structure of his poems, especially the Pisan Cantos, is stunningly interesting and can only be accomplished in poetry. There is a love of experimentation that flows through these poets, and that’s why I love reading them.
With experimentation, poetry is an excuse to play with language itself and twist and mold it in ways that prose is not allowed. To ignore this special privilege is in my opinion to make okay poetry at best. The ability to create sentences that are not sentences and wind passages in and out of staccato words, that’s poetry to me. It’s almost a duty in the end for a poet to take advantage of the opportunity to do everything in their power to not only create an interesting set of words, but to also play with how the words appear on the page. It’s a medium through which one can now do anything, it’s exciting because of that, but also horribly difficult now.
So in the end, the reason why I’m not a fan of poetry is that many don’t play with a completely open format.