Debunking the Poetry Myth

Here’s a cool synchronicity–the night after I post about the fun of the Bad Titles exercise, my 14-year-old brings home a very similar homework assignment fro her creative writing class. They were given a list of nonsensical headlines and told to pick one and write a poem based on it.

It’s her first poetry assignment as a teenager, and while she knows I write poetry I’m aware that I can’t foist my love of it onto her. Like many, she still labors under the delusion that writing poetry has to be hard, and she hasn’t discovered the magic of free verse either.

People think writing poetry is for academics, or for emo goth types, or for the suicidal, or for old-fashioned types who drink brandy from snifters. And so they don’t experiment with writing poetry, and they never discover gifts they might have. It’s true that not everyone will encounter a deep passion for poetry, but there are thousands who will never know.

The word poetry comes from the Greek poesis, which simply means making. A poet, like other creative people, is simply a maker. “Just make something,” I want to tell my daughter. Just let some words flow, and arrange them in some new way, and see that you just made a new thing. It wasn’t there before, and now it exists. Congratulations, you’re a poet.