Why Though?

So… About my word groupings that i place in the category of “This Is Not Poetry.” Friends have asked me on a few occasions why i say it’s not poetry when it so clearly is.
I have a few reasons.
What follows are a series of judgments and opinions. They are mine and no one else’s, and some of them are harsh and petty. I will present an argument against myself after each. This is to show what i think, and how i’ve dealt with what i think.

JB = Judgey Blurt
3R = Relatively Reasonable Response

JB: For one thing, poetry doesn’t have a great reputation in our day and age. There’s a lot of eyerolling and jokes about those who indulge, in both the reading and the writing of such. I’ve read a lot of truly awful poetry, from the amateur gushings of lovesick and misunderstood teenagers, to pieces that the “professionals” mark as beautifully written, that i just plain didn’t like. There’s more bad poetry than there are bad tattoos – and that’s saying something.

3R: Well, so what? Arting is good for everyone. Doing something creative is uplifting for my mood and nutritious food for my brain. Throwing words together in a fancy, flowery way helps me face things that are hard to face. It helps me express myself to others on a more personal level. It can put a pretty spin on something that isn’t pretty – and that can help me live with the thing i’m writing about. When i was a karaoke hostess i used to tell people all the time that singing isn’t for being good at, so much as it is good for you. While i am unconvinced that such a thing as a soul exists, making art clearly feeds who i am as an individual. It’s good for me, and it’s not at all necessary for me –or anyone else– to be good at it. Also, i think a lot of the dismissive attitude stems from it being seen as old fashioned. And i think poetry seems easy, but can be frustratingly, infuriatingly, off-puttingly difficult. Maybe it’s just me, but as a lover of poetry, i’ve found it arduous to put out something i genuinely think is not crappy, let alone remotely readable for anyone else. More on that later.

(And those tattoos? I’ve got a crap one, too. The lesson there for me was, do not make any big changes, including permanently marking your body, when you are manic. Heh.)

(And those flowery, hyperemotional teenage screeds? They were an excellent tool to say things i couldn’t say, and purge emotions i couldn’t talk about. I think angsty, emo frothing is great for anyone. Not just writing either – READING it as well. Crappy poetry has proved as cathartic in my life as sappy songs.)

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JB: Poetry is profoundly personal, to me. There’s a difference between writing/blogging prose and poetry. Okay, that’s obvious… but is it, though? (Poetry rhymes and prose doesn’t may get us to a decent jumping off point – despite it being wrong.) I’m not sure i can define what the difference is, but man, it’s just deeper. It’s intimate. It accesses a part of my psyche and experiences that defy explanation, that evade the grasp of words. Also, when you consider my judgmental attitudes about poetry (judgments that i don’t feel too badly about, mind you, because everything about art is subject to judgment), i’m putting it all out there for others to see. I’m hangin’ my bare nekkid ass out the window while driving slowly down Main Street, so eeeeverybody can have a good looksee.
Here i am, doing that art-thing that so many (including me, sometimes) find cringey as heck.
And if you think this stuff is bad, hey, wanna see my etchings?

3R: Personal is what i do, here. I can’t provide the help that i hope to if i don’t open up and let you see and know. And you get to have opinions about it all – about me. Judgments, too. I welcome all to judge my words here, these thoughts and feelings and experiences i float about in this techno-aether. Not so that you may judge ME (although you certainly may), but so you can judge for yourself, if there is anything here of value to you. I do all this here to help myself, and anyone else who comes looking. If a seeker finds themself here, even if they find nothing in common with me, i hope they move on with the sense that they can know who they are and how they work, and through that, have more of the life they want.

At this point in my life i’m still not fully functional by my own standards, but i am almost there. That is a truly amazing thing, and it is a thing that i have done. I don’t have much to offer the world, but i do have that much. I have my life and the way that i’ve lived it, to share with any who’d know and wish to learn. Glean what you will; discard any or all as chaff.

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JB: I still wrestle with core issues like my need for acceptance and my fear of rejection. I want to be liked, and i want my art to be liked, and what if i’m/it’s not? Go ahead and don’t like my online journalling, i can slough that off in a brief season. But the poetry is closer to me, although it’s not as important to me as sharing my experience, strength, and hope (yes, i stole that from somewhere), it leaves me more raw and vulnerable to criticism and rejection. It’s like inviting you out with me. The not-poetry stuff is just us going out for coffee at a local roasterie. The poetry is having you over for supper, and what if you don’t like anything i made?

3R: This is one of those places where the rubber meets the road. Have i properly prepared for what might happen when i share my poetry? It might be ignored, skipped over, skimmed, or fully read and not liked/enjoyed. I haven’t observed it but a couple of times, but someone may even feel moved to tell me so. Am i wearing my armour of healthy self-esteem and reasonable expectations? Do i have on my YouDoYou hat and my ArtEyeBeholder boots? Am i wearing my intention goggles?

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And oh, here’s the final bit about my not-poetry, and it’s a sticky bit for some.
My stuff isn’t that good. I don’t think it’s horrible, but i love poetry, and what i write falls short of my personal standards. Imposter Syndrome has been suggested to me, and i considered it carefully, but i don’t think that’s something i wrestle with. I think i’m being realistic, and that is something i personally put a high value on. I understand and appreciate those who would say, You wrote something, therefore you’re a writer; You wrote a poem, therefore you are a poet. I definitely qualify based on their definition, and that’s genuinely nice, and it feels good and i like it.
That being said, i do not see myself as either a writer or a poet.

My journalling is decent because it’s in my voice. I’m mostly happy with it, although i’d like to always be improving.
My poetry ain’t great. It just isn’t. It is nowhere near the standard i’d put on a publishable piece. I’m okay with that. I still like my poems. I mean, i’m not a great baker either, but cake is still cake. Maybe i couldn’t put it in a bakery’s display case, but it’s still sweet and tasty and good enough to share with a friend along with tea and conversation. That’s what my poetry is – afternoon tea with a friend. The cake fell 3/4s of the way through baking, but i slapped some fudge frosting on it, and now i’m not bothered at all. In fact, i think i’ll have another slice.

Art is important to do, for me. It’s food, it’s therapy, it’s communication, it’s connection.
It is not necessary to be good at it to do it, as i believe i am proving. Heh.
And i am not bothered by my art not being up to mine or anyone else’s standards.
Further, i think “substandard” art can be just as enjoyable and therapeutic and resonant and emotive as art that is considered “great.”
It’s not my intention to ruffle feathers. I’m attempting to explain my choices here, and how i arrived upon them. I’m here for the general measure of what counts as excellence. I am also free to use my own yardstick, as are you.

I think the way i look at it is valid, and could maybe be helpful to others who hesitate to share their art.
The bottom line to all of the this, the most basic and simple reason that i can provide as to why i insist on calling it not-poetry, is because…

Based on my fears and weaknesses, without the caveat* attached, i might not ever post any.**

Love and Peace to All,
~H~

* The caveat is the roll that gets my piece on the board. After that, i’m just playing the game.

** Which is admittedly contradictory to all that confidence i showed in my final points. But hey, i am what i am, and that includes inconvenient qualities like ambivalent, contradictory, and all too often hypocritical.

IMAGE: Alvaro Serrano