Let me start off by saying that when I was first introduced to poetry, it was far from love at first sight. I genuinely envied my friends who could spend hours delving into Shakespeare, for I was not blessed with such enlightened interests. I never considered myself be a poetic kind of person, tending to be much more comfortable reading and writing prose. When I signed up for a creative writing course for the spring semester, I did not realize I was getting myself into an eight-week crash course in the art of poetry.
We were promised that our unit on poetry would be much different than any other exposure we would have had previously, so I attempted to go into class with an open mind (which heavily involved suppressing my day 1 urge to just drop the course and take a film class instead). I’m not going to lie, it was a huge struggle at first. Poetry is basically a foreign language full of complex themes and literary devices that I had never been exposed to in any composition class I had ever taken. Trying to derive a meaning from some of the pieces we were reading was a challenge (don’t even get me started on trying to write some of our own work). I found myself spending most of my time in the first few weeks staring at a blank word document, the cursor taunting me by counting down the seconds, a constant reminder of the 11:59 p.m deadline that was fast approaching.
With each class, I slowly learned how to decipher our readings. I began picking up on the differences between the action of the poem, and the theme. I found myself incorporating more figurative language into my own writing (like imagery, metaphors, or repetition). I actually found myself enjoying the coursework (I know, crazy concept). Poetry not only began changing my writing but also my way of thinking. It was forcing me to get uncomfortable. Encouraging me to look a little bit closer at where I’ve been, who I am, where I’m going, and the people that I’m surrounding myself with.
If you haven’t had much exposure to poetry in your life, allow me to be the one to tell you that it is most definitely not what you think it is. The number one thing I will take from my experience with poetry is that writing wields power. Poetry has the ability to play with words and make connections in such a way that writers are able to convey such strong emotions to readers. Writing poetry forces you to look at the world around you through a lens that is not your own. That lens takes the shape of empathy (which I believe the world could use a whole lot more of).
What I thought was going to be another boring assignment to check off of my to-do list turned into a new experience that opened up a door to new possibilities for me. I cannot see myself walking away from poetry any time soon.