Permission Granted

Why do people so often cringe at the word “poetry”?

I have two opinions.

Opinion #1: at some point during education, too much analysis destroyed enjoyment and made poetry harder than it needed to be. What is the poet saying? What symbols did the poet employ? What is the deeeeeeep meaning of this poem? What form, what techniques did the poet use?

Or the psycho-lit question: what meaning does this have for you, the reader?
This one requires self-analysis—possibly for people too cheap or too broke to afford a shrink.

The lesson learned with the earliest nursery rhymes, then forgotten, then rediscovered is this: analysis isn’t always required to enjoy a poem.  It’s okay to like snapshot stories of words and the afterimages they leave or the way the arrangements roll off the tongue.

Maybe the poem does say something to me personally, lifts my spirits, or leaves a sense of wonder (or delicious chill) with the final lines. Maybe it lingers and surfaces for reflection when I do some other terminally boring activity. And/or maybe I enjoy it enough to memorize so I can revisit at will, any time I can’t have a book or e-reader in hand.

Opinion #2: a lot of poetry either doesn’t make sense at all or it’s the sense of the poet psychoanalyzing him/herself. Most confessional writing, including poems, bores the snot out of me. By the time I’ve wandered through someone’s self-absorption or self-flagellation, I no longer care whether the teakettle was copper, the pencil was a 2B stub, and the booze spilled on the floor. I’m glad I only had to plod/slog/trudge through 24 lines of it.
(Terribly unsophisticated of me, I know.)

So, I enjoy the challenge, the discipline of writing form poems, rhymed and unrhymed, as well as the liberty of free verse, of exploring new ways to express a moment or idea cleanly, crisply, creatively. I like poems that tell or suggest a micro-story (especially fantasy or science fiction).

My poetry collection, Under Every Moon, explores edges where the mundane and uncanny parallel or converge, where ordinary and extraordinary intersect, and where reality and fantasy sometimes collide. Hear the voice of sand, of birds, of the tarot’s charioteer, of the crone who spins and weaves dreams and nightmares. Feel the talismanic beat of a drum, heart, or hoof, or the clatter of dice. Discover a name, witness ghosts dancing, and learn secrets of the sea.

I pass along the permission I granted myself to simply enjoy poetry. With or without analysis.

Under Every Moon is at

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