My Barbaric Yawp: why I need more poetry in my life.

Yawp, Walt WhitmanRecently, I went into my backyard to read some poetry. And even as my skin darkened and perspired in the sweltering afternoon sun, I was not uncomfortable. I was wrapped up in the process of world jumping; the process of reading poem after poem in an anthology: a synthetic solar system made of planets that were never meant to orbit so close to each other, yet compliment one another in wonderful & mysterious ways.

I am a poetry nerd. For me, poetry is relevant, a refuge, an open community, a fresh perspective that can only be fed to me by metaphor. I recite lines that do not belong to me more often than I read my own and I read my own (almost) as often as I can. I’m a slam poet: constantly adding to my youtube playlist of favorite poems.

Many aren’t comfortable with the idea of slam poetry: they attach stereotypes to it or think that the distinction is unnecessary. But to me slam poetry is merely performance poetry and I believe any and every poem can (and should) be performed. Every page is an invitation for performance. What is form on but stage direction?

Another reason I often single out slam when I talk about my love for poetry is the energetic community vibe. If you’ve never been to a poetry slam (competitve “reading”: in which poets are scored from a scale of 1 to 10) or the like, you may not know what I’m taking about. I mean how rowdy and passionate the crowd gets for poetry: the way we will chant 10 after a moving piece. The way that our cheering, screaming, groaning, and snapping are welcomed; the way they add fuel to the fire the poet’s bringing on stage. Poetry is so primal and fundamentally human.

We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. via Dead Poets Society

People say they just don’t get poetry but that’s like saying you don’t get fiction. Poetry is not a mere matter of understanding (though it’s certainly a component). Poetry is, above all, an emotional experience. It moves me before I can articulate why. It’s a literary reflex I believe all of us have, whether or not we want to admit/embrace it; we can all have an aesthetic and poetry is too broad to dismiss entirely. Even if you aren’t a “fan” of poetry, if you give it a chance something is sure to strike you.

But for all my talk about poetry, I don’t give it nearly enough time. I watch poetry very frequently (via Button Poetry and Speak Easy NYC) but the poetry section of my bookshelf and my notebooks are, still, far too empty. So to combat this I am going to do a 40 day poetry streak starting tomorrow: I will read at least one poem a day and will post share my favorite at the end of the week.

If you have any poetry books to recommend please comment below!


5 thoughts on “My Barbaric Yawp: why I need more poetry in my life.

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