“What Is Poetry?” – A Spoken Word Poem


An interviewer once asked me why I felt
that poetry was so hard to grasp for some people. He asked why it seemed that,
for them, it was so much more difficult to understand than other literatures. I
didn’t hesitate as I gave her some short form response about how you had to go
into poetry, as the reader or listener, with a different mindset than others. I
didn’t go into much more detail than that because I think that the in-depth
answer would simultaneously take a moment and the late time to truly
understand. What a lot of those people don’t seem to grasp is that it’s not
just a subgroup of literature. Poetry is life. And I don’t mean that in some
existential way, speaking from a poet’s point of view. I mean that quite literally. Chemistry speaks
of elements and bonds, while geography speaks of land masses and oceans. Astronomy
looks up into the sky and sees stars, galaxies, and planets, and architecture
builds everything from the smallest parks to the largest structures. We look
at these things and give them names, describing what we see and what they are,
but what we don’t realize is that these are simply words. A molecule is only a
molecule because that’s what we call it, but the truth is that what we’re really
trying to describe is too abstract for our minds to fathom. Take away the
label and everything around us is just a miracle. It’s those names that we call
things, THAT’S poetry. Our ability to look at life and label it proves that not
only do we all understand poetry on some instinctual level, but that we’re all poets to
some degree or another. It doesn’t take verse, structure, or rhyme to grasp it. It just takes the
possession of our natural senses. And the fact that in today’s world there
so many people who don’t understand that speaks volumes. And I don’t mean that in a derogatory or
negative way to anyone who doesn’t get it. I’m just saying that today’s society
seems to have forgotten that core philosophy. We’ve traded our five senses for
the 3 W’s and now we just assume that everything is what it is because we made
it. But the truth is that we didn’t make any of it, we just gave it labels. And now
we’re losing touch with the sight of a baby smile. The sounds of nature are being
drowned out by the dial tone. And the smell of the ocean air is being covered
up by the taste of bottled water. There is no call to action here. I’m not trying to
change the world or change minds. I’m simply trying to answer a question: What
is poetry and why is it so hard for some people to comprehend? The answer is
simple. Take a look around and tell me what you
see, and that’s all it really takes to understand it. Every career, from the
employee to the employer, uses poetry on a daily basis. Once you truly grasp that,
then perhaps you still may not understand all poets, but you’ll have a
far easier time of it. Because you’ll realize that poetry…is literally…all
around us.

1 thought on ““What Is Poetry?” – A Spoken Word Poem

  1. I love poetry. Poetry describes so much about how emotion and feelings go together to describe life.

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