July 11, 2005

Write Poetry? Not Me!

I’m not a poet, and I know it. I’ve never written poetry and I don’t plan on starting. In fact, when I mentioned this non-desire to a friend of mine, she tried to explain that writing poetry isn’t all that hard.

I simply laughed.

I’m not an abstract person; I think along concrete lines. I look at a tree, and I see a tree, I don’t see a world leader, a symbol, or even nature, I simply see an object and never think anything more. I would LIKE to train myself to see beyond that initial process but I’m afraid I just don’t have the patience to train myself. I have learned to read between the lines in prose, but poetry is still beyond my comprehension.

In my latest version of Writer’s Digest, Miriam Sagan offers advice for poets that are going through a creative slump. Here’s an excerpt:

Found in the Tabloids

Most of us like to scan the tabloids at the supermarket checkout line,
but few of us will admit to buying them. Here’s a great excuse. Buy a few and
look at the most outlandish stories for poetic inspiration. Are 4,000 pairs of
shoes found annually in the New York City subway system? Write a poem about it.
When my daughter was little, I used to enjoy taking her grocery shopping because
she could ride in the cart. I glanced at a tabloid and was intrigued by the
headline, “Baby Found Inside Watermelon.” The story claimed that a large
watermelon on a kibbutz in Israel had been sliced open, only to reveal an infant
inside. Babies and produce were on my mind that day. I wrote a poem that took
its title from the headline:

Tabloid headline on the checkout line

My basket full of cantaloupe
The night you were conceived, little one,I, your mother,
dreamed of a slit peach
With a tiny dark-haired baby inside
Like the old couple in the Japanese fairy tale
Who looked for peach boy, peach girl.

Without the tabloid, I probably never would have remembered the
dream and wanted to share its importance.

The poem then goes on to discuss the tabloid story and ends:

Promise me, little milk and honey girl
That you’ll sproutQuick as the wild gourd
Not hideMystery inside of fruit.

I should say that this poem is profound, insightful, deeply moving, but I can’t. I simply don’t understand it. I suppose that’s the whole point behind poetry - it’ s not meant to have a universal meaning, it means whatever the reader wants it to mean.

I’m too shallow for poetry, and I think that might be a bad thing.

Write From Karen

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