Opinion: Poetry is underappreciated


Krista Fleming

“Falling Up” by Shel Silverstein was the first poetry book I ever read. People have attempted to ban Silverstein’s works for their blatant humorous nature. Edgar Allen Poe’s works have often been used in schools. After reading “The Haunted Palace” by Poe, it completely changed my perspective on poetry as a writing style.

The first time I read a poem was painful. I had just gotten back from lunch during elementary school and was greeted by lines of script that, in my vision, had no meaning. Despite my love of reading, I initially hated poetry after being told by teachers, tests and quizzes to find their “meaning” or “theme ” – it only fueled my hatred for the genre. That was until one of my teachers decided to read Shel Silverstein’s “Where The Sidewalk Ends,” making me see a bit more than the frantic tree descriptions I’d read before.

  After finally finding a poem that did not make my mind strain for its meaning, I was enthusiastic to find more. I curiously dove into other poets and found myself absorbed. There were stories written in poetic formats and script lines in shapes of what they were about. That was when I met my final poetic nemesis: poetry on pure description.

It was a normal class assignment for me, a load of poetic analysis with a side of three very long poems. Then, I encountered poems by Edgar Allen Poe, whose poems, at times, were pure descriptions. My mind struggled to wrap around the concept of symbolism in such things. How could “an old dilapidated palace” translate to the effects of depression on the mind? It was nonsense, but at that moment, it clicked that these pure words were filled with intention. Every color, every name and every description filtered through me with pure feeling.

When I finally crossed my final poetic bridge, I encountered many who were skeptical of any meaning in the scattered lines I enjoyed. People often look at poetry as something to be diluted, filtered and torn apart from meaning. That, however, is far from the truth. Poetry is like art – every word means to a person what they see themself. It is what the first flight of a bird shows, rather than the over-thinking of small details like the fact that, perhaps, the bird is brown or the tree is 57 feet tall. Poetry is full of symbolism that doesn’t need to be wrestled with, and often people fail to understand it as what it is.

Poetry is an art that truly flows into all forms of creativity. A poem does not have to be written as a complicated pointed set of words; it can be a feeling or image that one sees. Writing poetry is a stress-relieving and enjoyable hobby. Often, I’ve found that what I can’t express in paragraphs or coordinated writing comes straight through in lines of poetry.

Poetry deserves more appreciation for its welcoming nature and the intention of word choice in it. It is an art of understatement and word flow that prose can’t compare to in simplicity. Taking time to read a poem or write some lines or stanzas in succession helps my mental relaxation as well. Poetry is an essential form of writing and more should see it as it is – a pure art of self expression.