It’s Poetry Friday. I love Poetry and I love Fridays, so Poetry Friday is my favourite day of the week. BUT last week, I missed posting on Poetry Friday. Awwww.
The good news is, the reason I missed Poetry Friday is because I was at the Perth Writers Festival – talking about poetry (and other bookish things).
The Festival is an annual event, and always has a wonderful programme, but the thing that made my heart sing this year was the way poetry featured so prominently across the programme – on Schools Day, on Family Day and in the general (adult) programming too. I was fortunate enough to introduce UK verse novelist Sarah Crossan to an enthusiastic audience on Schools Day, and then do an ‘in conversation’ session with her on Family Day. I also read some of my poetry in the Arts Courtyard at a lunchtime event with other poets. On the Friday, where I was a spectator for the day, I went to a well-attended session titled Poetic Sensibilities where Sarah was on a panel with Caitlin Maling, Samuel Wagan Watson and Tineke Van der Eecken.
What delighted me was the way poetry was being spoken about not just during these sessions, but also around the festival – in the green room, at social events, even in lines for the bathrooms.
So, some observations from these conversations and from listening to these awesome poets:
- Poetry is important. It’s important for lots of reasons, not the least because it makes us feel.
- Poetry should not make you feel dumb. If it does, that’s not your fault. It isn’t a test.
- If you don’t believe me about numbers 1 and 2, think back to your childhood and how you loved to listen to Dr Seuss, or AA Milne, or nursery rhymes. They made you feel good – laughing, or joining in. They may have even made you feel like you could read before you learnt to do so, because you could both predict text and also memorise it. Then think about a time when you were asked to answer comprehension questions or write an essay about a poem you didn’t ‘get’. Not necessarily the poet’s fault, but as soon as poetry becomes a test, we lose some (most/all) of the magic.
- If you find poem or a poet too obscure, don’t give up on poetry altogether. Just try a different poet. Not every poem will suit every readers, just as not every novel does.
- Poetry is not something you have to write/read/discuss in a darkened room or dusty attic. There are other poetry lovers out there – and, if you love poetry, talk about and share it. Spread the love!
I’m off to celebrate Poetry Friday by writing poetry. How about you?