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After spending a semester studying poetry and listening to the "Words that Shimmer" podcast I realized that this was an inaccurate view of the scope of poetry. Poetry is so much more than a collection of abstract thoughts, virtually incomprehensible to those who are not highly educated. Elizabeth Alexandra articulated this perfectly when she said, "Poetry is a poor people's art form". This line hit home for me. I had never given much credence to poets I had never heard of, discounting it as, not real poetry. But, in fact, the opposite is true. To me poetry has evolved throughout the semester. I have always viewed poetry as a form of writing meant for those with time, and money enough to waste it on lofty language. Instead, though, it has transformed slowly over the semester, becoming a thing that I could appreciate and even enjoy reading.
This realization changed how I viewed poetry entirely. It suddenly transformed from a lofty impossibility to a manageable any-mans art. While it has been hard for me to acknowledge, the confusion and questions poetry has brought me I think that this helps tremendously. This idea of letting yourself off the hook to be honestly confused by a poem is something I think is important to your overall experience with the poem. This idea to not be intimidated by poetry is something that has unexpectedly stayed with me throughout this semester. Originally, I blew this same off as something that was a meaningless scrap of information, however, that idea kept nagging at me until I realized that there is comfort in the confusion. We can be just as comfortable admitting we do not understand the poem as we can be pretending that the poem does not matter to us. This idea has bled into the other aspects of my life, acknowledging the confusion has become something I am increasingly more comfortable with.
To return to the ideas brought up in the podcast, poetry is poor mans art. I remember the idea of the Dim Lady poem by Harryette Mullen. The poem that translated, rather loosely, a sonnet by Shakespeare, takes something many people feel is loft and unattainable and make it entirely manageable, like translation. While the author has no fame as Shakespeare, no special training, no inexplicable talent, she still wrote a poem. Just proving Elizabeth Alexander's idea. This poem I think speaks to the versatility of poetry of poetry, as well. It is something anyone could read and understand.
In a strange manner of coincidence, I went out to dinner with my mother, shortly before leaving school and I ended up speaking to a poetry professor at the University of California, Berkeley. I told her about this assignment she was fascinated. She then proved to have a fascinating insight as to why poetry is thought of as an elite art, when it is an everyman's art, she said, "Poetry, speaks how we feel on the most interior level, and anything that can put words to that is intimidating and unimaginably powerful". This I felt was such a fitting end to the class. Poetry is made to not intimidate and bemuse us, but rather help us to find this that we are comfortable with and things that describe how we feel about everything. Poetry should not be the lofty form of scholars, but rather something you can sit own and talk about with someone like you talk about the latest Grey's Antony episode or the latest hit book. Anyone can be a writer and reader of poetry. So I would like to add to the sentiments of Miss Alexander, instead of saying it is a poor man's art, I would like to say that it is an everyman's art. The only requirement to read or write poetry is to have a heart beat.