Waxing Poetic in the Defense of Poetry

Good morning, America. While you’re working that first cup of coffee, let me ask: How you coming along on that NaPoWriMo?

Yes, it’s National Poetry Writing Month. (Isn’t that on your calendar?) I’ve managed to write a three-lined haiku. The more gung ho types aim for a poem A DAY. Such is the life of today’s up and coming Wordsworth’s and Longfellow’s.

“Poetry?” you ask. “Are you kidding me?”

Before you pop my celebratory balloons, give me a moment of your time. Too often, poetry is dismissed as an academic form for the entertainment of professors or Bohemian poseurs in coffee shops. I grant you, many who declare themselves “poets” are writing for other self-declared word nerds. But, poetry is so much more.

It infiltrates our lives, bringing us daily joy. Namely, the poetry we all love is sung to us on the radio. Catchy lyrics that bring on a smile. Social commentaries that make us blink. Downright sad ballads that induce a chocolate binge. We collect these on our Ipods. We dance to them at the clubs.

We buy poems in greeting cards to succinctly express our thoughts. Happy birthday, my condolences, thinking of you from afar.

Our children recite nursery rhymes that go back centuries, carrying on the love of those silly sing-song rhymes. Even as adults, we can recall “Hickory Dickory Dock” on cue. And, we sing nursery rhymes at bedtime to our little ones. “Hush A Bye Baby” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Soothing lullabies that dry up tears and lull them to sleep.

We read verse, rhymed and unrhymed, from beautifully illustrated picture books. We’re subjected to witty quatrains on bathroom walls. We scandalize one another with naughty limericks.

When we need to put something on paper because our hearts are about to burst, we write poetry because it is a manageable amount of words to express the laments of a break-up. In five, ten lines, we can share our angst.

And we write love poems. When wooing, what better way to worm into the heart of a beloved? Even my husband-to-be, who’d never profess himself a poet, wrote a poem when he proposed to me.

Please say yes
As I ask you this
And say you love me
With a kiss
For all that you are
And all that will be
My love…

[I nervously turned the page]

How could I say “no” to that? His poem caused my heart to flutter.

So, forget about those cryptic poems and intellectual navel gazings expressing “deep thoughts.” We have everyday poetry for you and me, ballads and ditties that tell a tale, convey emotion, and eloquently describe the world around.

Admit it. You like poetry. Come over to the dark side and celebrate.