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Poetic Suffering: Why I Hate Poetry

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po-etic suf-fer-ing [ p? et?ik suf??r i?] : the undergoing of distress caused by the reading, writing, or hearing of poetry

So I tried to give poetry another chance, thinking that maybe claiming to hate all poetry is a little close-minded of me. After all, I’m a good liberal. I tried to like it, I really did. But I came to my usual conclusion: all poetry is melodramatic, weird, pointless, and useless, and could be far better executed as prose. No offense to anyone’s poetry in particular (except T. S. Eliot-the man was seriously deranged), but I hate it all.

I resented the poetry unit my English teacher made us do last year enough that when he insisted that we each write an ode, I decided to be clear about just how painful I found poetry writing to be, and wrote my ode to poison. Here’s how it went:

The most poetic way to die
Is the subtle knife, sliding by
The quiet poison slipping in
A changing heart, from within
And yet the prettiest death of all
Is death by gold, the wherewithal
Slinking heavily through the veins
A weighty pulse, and pretty pains
And as it cleaves to the walls
Of hearts and limbs and lungs, enthralls-
Prettily poisoning, the cost is dear
Of the pretty gold, so near
Lustrous death, and ductile pain
As the metal makes its gain
It slithers before the ruby heart- the pulse will stall
And far to prettily to appall
The harbinger’s beauty does belie
First pretty pains, and then you die
The ruby flits and flutters and then it stills
And the pretty pain cries, for the precious rubies it spills
Pay dearly for beauty, beauty that kills
More pulchritudinous than arsenic or pills
Stopped the ruby, with gold
The ruby grows still and then grows cold
Still so poetic, and as such
The pain is never, never too much
Malleable meanness, ductile death
Has forever taken another’s breath
And forever to another watchful eye
The very prettiest way to die

See what I did there? I decided to use the example of a woman on an episode of House that poisoned her husband with gold. This seemed unnecessarily melodramatic and drawn out, which I believe is analogous to poetry; writing or reading it. So I called this dramatic way of committing homicide poetic, and wrote a satirically dramatic poem about it. Beyond that, it’s an ode, which means I’m praising it. Therefore, I humbly accept the award for “Most Sarcasm in One Single Poem” in the teenage girl category.

My point is this: the majority of poetry is written by ‘misunderstood,’ angst-ridden people, on the subject of nonconformity. This is the coward’s way out, because writing poetry consigns all of the emotional trouble to a document which may never be shared, eliminating the need to confront the problem head-on. Learn to write properly, in sentence form, if you would like to express yourself. I do not care to exert the extra effort deciphering contrived and awkward syntax in order to determine what you are trying to say. I will gladly move on to a writer with the gift of elegant, simple speech in standard paragraph form. With quotation marks to denote speech. I’m looking at you, James Joyce, you self-important jerk.

Anything that is written as a poem can be converted to prose, and gains clarity, simplicity, and comprehensibility when it is. In fact, most poems read aloud sound as if they are paragraphs. I’m not overly impressed with you poets: it appears you have learned how to write a sentence, but not the keyboard’s space bar. Just breaking the sentence in the middle and placing the second half in the line below is just cause for concern: it says that you can’t write anything that is interesting when it is in the form of a traditional paragraph, and that you felt the need to make it look weird to compel people to give it a second thought. Sometimes, the only way to distinguish between poetry and prose with awkward layout is the heavy-handed use of figurative language, rhyme, and random capitalization for emphasis. A good writer should need none of this in order to convey an emotion.

To sum up:

Poetry, my enemy
In English class shall ever be
For it to read I rack my brain
For some way to avoid the pain
Of split infinitives, grammatical Errors
Excessive drama and capital letters
O, the agony of poetry
A hundredfold of that of he
Achilles, who suffered Hurt
Less painful than what Poets blurt
At random all across the page
As they muddle through their suppressed rage
Ah Poetry, oh Poetry!
I fear you shall be the death of me

This is the angry, melancholy way of expressing what I wrote in clear prose above. Note the lofty comparison to Achilles’ pain, the awkward capitalizations, punctuation and syntax, and the whiny tone. The sarcasm is entirely lost in translation, because what is evidently ironic in the prose version is intelligible largely because of the proper, conventional use of syntax and sentences in general. The lightly mocking, conversational tone of the prose can’t be translated into poetry because the meter of the words changes; it is therefore less engaging and easy to follow. It becomes necessary to employ irony to the point of contradiction in order to convey the tone, which I do by using the very tactics I am bemoaning. Prose is much more straightforward.

Beauty lies in elegant simplicity, so stick to using words as they are to be used, in standard sentence form. More people will understand you, and less will view you as bitter, melodramatic moaners. Just drop the pretentiousness and say what you mean.

Join the Discussion

This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

Underhill said...
Dec. 15, 2011 at 3:28 am
Hold on—I for one DO agree.  I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who loathes poetry!  I agree with EVERYTHING you say, in fact!  I've written my own poems on poem-hating and it always surprises people who know me because I'm such a literature buff.
Phantom_Girl This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 27, 2010 at 2:23 pm
While I disagree with your topic (I happen to think that the complexities of poetry make it all the more beautiful) I did think your piece was funny, and very well-written. I also think that while your definition of poetry-"written by 'misunderstood' angst-ridden people"-may not apply to ALL poetry, it certainly applies to quite a bit these days, and I love how you called it. I can't stand overly dramatic poetry. In conclusion, the piece was hilarious, up-front, and written by a fantastic writer.
ladygagaluvr said...
May 7, 2010 at 6:36 pm
though i dont agree with you on this topic, i love your article.
remym This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 7, 2010 at 8:08 pm
Thanks. I appreciate comments from people who don't agree. It's hard to like writing you don't agree with.
Hate Tennyson replied...
Nov. 20, 2011 at 10:57 am

So like... Honest to be honest!

Well the problem with me is that I totally hate poetry in English class, sort of 'coz my English Teacher is a big fan of Alfred Tennyson that she practically named her son after him. WOWWWW, So you kinda understanding my Feelings here Right!!??

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