I love making fun of poetry. Everyone I knew growing up seemed to try their hand at the serious stuff and most of it stunk. I’ve never enjoyed sonnets and 500 line verses about flowers. Add in the numerous ex boyfriends who thought love poems were romantic and I have little stomach for anything that doesn’t make me laugh.
When most people think of poetry, they think of meters, couplets, metaphors about flowers and streams. I hate those. They hold nothing for me. I get bored with verses about ideology and heartache. I’ve dealt enough of that crap throughout my life.
But as much as I run around proclaiming my hatred for poetry, I do have a soft spot. I’m a writer; truth, honesty, and beauty matter almost as much to me as a good joke. I’ve never really hated poetry; I hate the misuse of it.
The modern ideal that anyone can be a great poet sickens me. To be good at anything one must have talent, experience, luck, and some kind of education.
Anyone can create a rhyme, make correlations between opposing ideas or material objects. That does not make them a great poet. To convey a thought well enough to touch countless minds takes more skill. Talent is not all that a poet needs, they also need a full understanding of themselves, others, and the world. Technical skills and proper education also matter.
Mixing all these together is the process, the journey we writers love to scream about.
I myself, adore epics. Absolutely love them. From Homer’s great stories to Marmion and Faust, they don’t blossom from public schools and college creative writing projects. They’re filled with life, experience. Listening to the masters and working with great poets helps separate the amateur from the professional. Living is the key ingredient.
This knowledge has led my writing career down many paths. I have my own writing Yoda, and an endless reading list in varying genres. Every day is an adventure waiting to be found. Despite my ramblings about great poets, I know I will never be one. I don’t write enough, and what I do get out into the world is for kids.
This doesn’t bother me. I know who I am and what I need. Mainly I know what works for me. I am the mother of three, an aunt to many, and a friend to all children. My influences were mostly Shel Silverstein and Roald Dahl.
A. A. Milne and Dr. Seuss never cease to remind me to enjoy life and never stop loving it. Instead of crying over tragedies I’d rather laugh at silly redemption stories. Maybe I’m a big kid, or just a child at heart, but whatever I am I do find fault with those who underestimate the power of comedy.
The greats always outshine their genre. But Milne and Silverstein were anomalies and I recognize that. When English professors discuss poetry and the minds that created the best works, these names get lost in the shuffle.
Because adults consider children’s poetry, “Fluff.”
Maybe I’m generalizing, but with good reason. To me there is nothing more universal than a poem that touches everyone. From a toddler, to a teen, to grandparents, the poems that reach farthest are the ones that receive the least credit.
Yes, Dickenson, and Frost held timeless styles (if you like their sort of views), but their work lacks something my favorite poets perfected: humor. I grow tired of the idea that suffering creates the best art. Art comes from strong emotions. That is the reality of it. Pain is only one strong emotion and an easier one to convey when creating a work. Writing a universal truths through humor and light-hearted whimsy is far more difficult. It takes unparalleled skill to write love and happiness because not everyone experiences joy the same way.
Silverstein understood this. His pieces are not always laugh-inducing, but they contain an element lacking from “adult” poetry. It reminds us to enjoy the simple things. That simple philosophy is more important than ever.
The literary world has gone through many changes over the past few decades. The growth of self-publishing and the kindle age has impacted it almost as much as the invention of the printing press. Some would argue more.
The belief that adults must hold a stuffy literary view of the world in order to appease mature audiences is proving to be incorrect. My children’s books have not only been well-received by young readers but childless adults as well. Everyone can benefit from remembering their inner-child. Poetry can bridge gaps; it has the ability to illuminate the darker aspects of life and all that stuff… blah blah blah let’s all go hug a tree. You know the rest.
Pain may come through quicker, but humor’s influence is unforgettable. When I write silly poems about farts or allergies, metaphor lurks in each line. Everybody trips and falls. Instead of getting embarrassed, why not have a good laugh?
Sharing our sillies is way more fun.
That’s why memes and gifs exist.
It’s why funny twitter is way better than the hell that is political twitter.
I mean, who could forget a good laugh?