The Pretension of Poetry

by Noise Pollution

Earlier today, I found myself meandering through the internet searching for bits and pieces of information on how to improve my writing techniques, be it for poetry or otherwise. I came across a couple of articles written by self-proclaimed poets which I found to be utterly despicable in their assumptions about this particular art form.

Who are you to define what constitutes a poem and what does not? Who are you to judge others who are moved by words that don’t affect you?

There were some pretty shitty sentiments in these pieces. One wonderful thing I came across was the breaking down of several poems and calling them out for being able to be said in full sentences, without the line breaks in them. That because there were very few things shared between those particular pieces and their particular definition of poetry, that the poems were bland, boring and newsish, among other gross insults. They claimed that failing to fill your poems with metaphors meant that you were simple; you were simple-minded and that it wasn’t worth writing. They proceeded to insult those who found such simple works moving, essentially calling them all brainless middle-class zombies.

It’s so presumptuous to make those claims. It shows a level of ignorance about writing that is astounding when you consider how much time they spent studying it.

As if a poem can’t be beautiful because of its simplicity.

As if the seemingly arbitrary line-breaks in a certain poet’s writing were completely meaningless; as though the masterful use of a pause in order to create tension and emphasis wasn’t at all valuable.

As though the only thing that matters in writing poetry is the words used rather than the way that they are used.

As though anything written in full sentences somehow couldn’t be breathtaking in its own way.

I found it disgusting. It literally made me sick. I wanted to contact these people, to tell them off, but I decided to settle for writing this out here. No one gets to decide what’s meaningful for other people. No one should belittle someone for finding something meaningful.

The people who like simple poetry are not the idiots here. The people who only use metaphors every now and then, when its important, are not the idiots here.

It’s those of you who decide to put arbitrary boundaries on artistic expression; those of you who need to dismiss something because it isn’t to your tastes. If you are one of those people, you are the actual idiot. You can find beauty in anything, and that’s okay.

Here’s a letter I wrote to someone who doesn’t exist. I think it’s poetic. It’s technically prose, because it is almost entirely grammatically correct. I don’t go out of my way to add in alliteration or rhyme. I fail to use a single metaphor. Does that mean that it can’t be beautiful? I guess it’s up to you guys to decide if writing sentences that mean exactly what they say they mean is somehow meaningless, or at the very least, lacking in that respect.

Anna,

I’m waiting.

I suppose I made you wait longer, though.

I blew it, didn’t I?

Three long, tedious years spent practically alone, with a cold heart trapped in a warm body by my side.

I would have been better off with your ghost.

But where are you now? Or are you still around, waiting?

Always, always waiting.

I’d like to see you, though I’m sure that rings kind of hollow, now.

I wonder if you’re out there, somewhere, or if you’re still hanging around.

Maybe I don’t deserve to feel your presence anymore.

Maybe I’m just down.

Either way, I’m lonely again, but expecting you to respond to my loneliness when I will give you nothing in return is… well, it’s irresponsible.

I’ve never been very responsible.

And I’m the same now as I’ve always been, if you were wondering.

What is it about my constant laying about that ever appealed to you?

Is it worth pursuing now?

Probably not.

I may be the same, but I’m not the same age. My youth is somewhere far, far away.

Maybe that’s where you went. Maybe that’s who you’re with.

Not that I’m accusing you of anything.

There’s nothing tangible for you to break.

And I believe in you, anyway.

I don’t have the right to, at this point, but I really do.

And…

I love you.

-Me

So, is plain language without beauty? Is it incapable of being poetic? I have to say that I disagree.

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