Some people call themselves “recovering Catholics,” and we all get the humor and intent. So, I hope you’ll grasp what I mean when I call myself a “recovering Poetry-Hater.”
Maybe hate is a strong word. But, the level of discomfort I’ve felt for poetry most of my life has a similar depth and range. All of that changed in February 2014.
I’d followed another one of my Prose, Poetry & Purpose guest authors through narrow, dark and dripping streets to an off-site, AWP reading in the International District. Terrain.org was the host, Julian Hoffman was my target, and there I sat (unmugged) in the tiny performance hall (maybe 25 seats?) of a Seattle Gold Rush Museum. Little did I know, my life was about to change.
You see, I’ve always felt rude…when reading poetry. It’s like listening to someone’s one-sided cell-phone conversation at a restaurant (in the next booth over) and then thinking it’s your business to try and figure out what they’re going through? What they’re trying to say? What…is in their head.
That old adage about making an “ass” out of “u” and “me” jumps instantly to mind, when I come face to face with written poetry. But, have you ever heard a poet speak? Now, that is an entirely different experience – flush with eye contact, body language, tone and volume. If two people who speak different languages entirely, can still manage to communicate through gesture and voice…is it any surprise that spoken poetry is leaps and bounds above the purely written form?
At least, if your goal is to understand the meaning intended by the poet. Of course, you may simply enjoy poetry for its own sake as a written form of artwork, for its lyrical quality, or for the mystery and the sheer joy of trying to sleuth your way to its original meaning.
But, either way…Rob Carney will blow your socks off!